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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 (T. vaginalis) parasite. This parasite causes a sexually transmitted infection (STI) called trichomoniasis. This is a common type of STI. 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 sexually transmitted infection (STI), such as HIV. In men, this parasite can cause inflammation of the urethra. 

Why do I need this test?

You may need this test to find out whether you have T. vaginalis. Many people who are infected have no symptoms. Only about 30% of people have 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 healthcare provider might check the acidity (pH) of vaginal discharge. 

Your healthcare provider may also recommend that you be tested for other STIs, such as gonorrhea and chlamydia. 

What do my test results mean?

Test results may vary depending on your age, gender, health history, the method used for the test, and other things. Your test results may not mean you have a problem. Ask your healthcare provider what your test results mean for you. 

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 you have a trichomoniasis infection. Also during trichomoniasis, the pH of vaginal discharge may be greater than 5. 

How is this test done?

In women, this test is done with a sample of vaginal discharge. To collect the sample, your healthcare provider may place a speculum in your vagina to look at the vagina and cervix.

In men, the healthcare 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. Be sure your healthcare provider knows about all medicines, herbs, vitamins, and supplements you are taking. This includes medicines that don't need a prescription and any illicit drugs you may use. 

Medical Reviewers:

  • Freeborn, Donna, PhD, CNM, FNP
  • Haldeman-Englert, Chad, MD