Health Encyclopedia

Trichomonas Vaginalis (Discharge)

Does this test have other names?

Trichomonas culture, testing for "trich" (pronounced "trick"), trichomoniasis, TV

What is this test?

This test looks for the Trichomonas vaginalis parasite. This parasite causes a sexually transmitted disease (STD) called trichomoniasis. This is a common type of STD. The parasite is more likely to infect women than men.

Experts have traditionally thought it causes few complications. But during pregnancy, it can raise a woman's risk of having her baby prematurely. Infected mothers are also more likely to have a low birth weight baby.  Trichomoniasis can also raise people's risk of becoming infected with or transmitting another STD, such as HIV. In men, this parasite can cause inflammation of the urethra. 

Why do I need this test?

You might have this test to identify whether you have T. vaginalis. Many people who are infected have no symptoms. Only about 30 percent of people develop symptoms.

In women, the infection can cause:

  • Vaginal discharge

  • Painful urination

  • Unusual vaginal odor

  • Vaginal redness

  • Discomfort during intercourse

  • Severe vaginal itching

In men, infection may cause:

  • Discharge from the penis

  • Itching in the penis

  • Discomfort with urination or ejaculation

What other tests might I have along with this test?

In women, the health care provider might check the pH, or acidity, of vaginal discharge. 

What do my test results mean?

Many things may affect your lab test results. These include the method each lab uses to do the test. Even if your test results are different from the normal value, you may not have a problem. To learn what the results mean for you, talk with your health care provider.

A normal test result means no Trichomonas parasites have been found, and the pH of the vagina will be 4.5 or less. Visible parasites under the microscope or parasites that grow in a culture dish mean trichomoniasis. Also, during trichomoniasis, the pH of vaginal discharge may be greater than 5. 

How is this test done?

In women, this test requires a sample of vaginal discharge. To collect the sample, your health care provider may place a speculum in your vagina to look at the vagina and cervix.

In men, the health care provider may need to swab the inside of the urethra and collect a urine sample.

What might affect my test results?

Nothing should affect your test results.

How do I get ready for this test?

You don't need to prepare for this test. 

  



Medical Reviewers:

  • Petersen, Sheralee, MPAS, PA-C
  • Sohrabi, Farrokh, MD