To diagnose an infection with Trichomonas vaginalis, a microscopic, single cell (protozoan) parasite that is usually transmitted sexually, causing vaginal infections in women and urethritis and prostatitis in men.
When a woman shows symptoms of infection, such as a strong-smelling vaginal discharge, genital itching, and/or pain during urination, or if a man has the frequent urge to urinate and/or a discharge from the urethra.
In women, a swab of vaginal or cervical secretions; a sample may be obtained from the same thin-layer collection vial used for a Pap smear; in men, a urethral swab is required. Other sources may include urine or prostatic fluid.
As symptoms warrant or when sexual partners test positive.
The test is looking for infection by Trichomonas vaginalis, a sexually transmitted, microscopic parasite that causes vaginal infections in women and urethritis in some men.
In women, a swab of secretions is collected from the vagina. In men, a swab is inserted into the urethra of the penis. Alternatively, the first portion of urine is collected for testing.
The secretions collected on the swab are examined under a microscope or tested using nucleic amplification testing to detect the presence of Trichomonas vaginalis. Nucleic amplification testing is used to detect the DNA of Trichomonas vaginalis in urine and other samples.
Your doctor may request the test if you complain of symptoms, such as vaginal discharge or pain on urination. If you have an infection with another sexually transmitted disease, your doctor might test for trichomonas as well. Testing may also be performed if your partner has tested positive for a genital tract infection.
A positive test indicates an infection that requires treatment with a course of antibiotics.
Trichomonas is an uncommon sexually transmitted disease in most parts of urban Australia. It is more common in Aboriginal populations especially in rural and remote communities.
An infected person is at greater risk of getting other sexually transmitted diseases, so the doctor may want to test for these other infections also.
Trichomonas infection can affect pregnancy, contributing to premature birth and low birth weight. You should inform your doctor if you may be pregnant. The doctor may medically manage a woman who is infected and in her first three months of pregnancy differently.
Most infected men have no symptoms but when they do, symptoms include discharge from the urethra, a frequent urge to urinate, and a burning sensation on urination.
It is usually treated with an antibiotic called metronidazole. Most antibiotics used to treat bacterial infections will not be effective against this parasitic infection. All current sexual partners must be treated at the same time or the patient is likely to become re-infected.
Pap smear, chlamydia, gonorrhoea
Conditions: Sexually transmitted diseases
Better Health Channel: Trichomoniasis
Queensland Government: Trichomoniasis
Queensland Government Sexual Health
Register of Public Sexual Health Clinics in Australia and New Zealand (pdf)
Last Review Date: February 14, 2015