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Anyone who thinks they might have trichomoniasis should get a test for this condition. Without treatment, trichomoniasis can increase the risk of a person contracting HIV.

Trichomoniasis, which people often refer to as “trich,” can also increase the risk of pregnancy complications, such as premature labor or low birth weight.

This article discusses what trichomoniasis is and how tests for the infection work. It also lists some of the tests available to purchase online and explains when to speak with a doctor.

Trichomoniasis is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in the United States, affecting about 2.6 million people in 2018. It is particularly common in biological females.

Although 70% of people with trichomoniasis have very few or no symptoms, the infection can still spread from them to others. Due to this, access to a convenient trichomoniasis test is important for people who are sexually active.

Causes of trichomoniasis

The cause of trichomoniasis is a parasite that spreads easily through sexual activity, including:

  • having vaginal sex
  • sharing sex toys
  • touching the genitals with the hands after touching fluid that contains the infection
  • having vulva-to-vulva contact

The majority of people with trichomoniasis do not have symptoms. For those who do, it can take 5–28 days after trichomoniasis exposure to develop symptoms. It can be easy to mistake the symptoms as being due to another condition, such as a urinary tract infection or yeast infection.

People who test positive for trichomoniasis, and their sexual partners, should receive treatment for the condition.

Doctors typically prescribe a nitroimidazole antibiotic as the standard treatment for trichomoniasis. People can either take the antibiotic in one dose or as one tablet twice daily for 7 days.

If a person has trichomoniasis or is receiving treatment for it, they can help prevent transmission by avoiding sexual activity until after they have finished their course of antibiotics. It is also important for a person’s partners to undergo testing and treatment to prevent reinfection.

Possible signs of trichomoniasis include:

A trichomoniasis test requires a person to collect a sample of their urine or vaginal secretions.

Common methods for analyzing samples in a trichomoniasis test include:

  • Nucleic acid amplification test (NAAT): This test has over 90% sensitivity in detecting trichomoniasis.
  • Wet prep: Potentially due to its cost, doctors often use this test process, though it is not the most sensitive. This method requires analysts to use microscopes to look for parasites in samples.
  • Culture: Growing cultures from samples may yield high quality test results, but it can take up to 7 days to get results.

A trichomoniasis test can be positive, negative, or unclear. If the results are positive and a person has an infection, a healthcare professional can treat the infection.

Whether people undergo testing at a clinic or take an at-home test, they should discuss the test results with a licensed healthcare professional.

A follow-up test may be necessary if the results are unclear. Even if the test comes back negative, the CDC recommends that people use barrier methods, such as condoms, during sexual activity and undergo regular testing for STIs.

Please note that the writer of this article has not tried these products. All information is purely research-based.

Home tests, which connect consumers to certified labs, are available through these companies:

LetsGetChecked

LetsGetChecked offers at-home tests for COVID-19, wellness, and other health concerns, including sexual health.

Three of its sexual health tests — the Basic 3, Standard 5, and Complete 8 — include a trichomoniasis test.

Users receive their tests, register them, collect their samples, and mail them in. They can check their results in a secure online location within 2–5 days. A doctor will review the results, and a nursing team member will then contact the person to discuss the next steps.

Learn more about LetsGetChecked here.

Everlywell

This online health diagnostics company offers 30 test panels, covering everything from allergies to thyroid function.

The trichomoniasis test uses a urine sample. The kit contains a urine cup, sample tube, pipette, biohazard bag, and prepaid shipping labels.

People register their kits, collect their samples at home, send them off, and receive doctor-reviewed results securely online within days. If the results are positive, a board certified doctor will contact the user to discuss the test and the next steps.

The specific test that the company uses is the NAAT, which Everlywell says is an effective trichomoniasis test for both males and females.

Learn more about Everlywell products here.

A person with a trichomoniasis infection may be more susceptible to other STIs. According to the CDC, a person with trichomoniasis has a higher chance of contracting HIV due to genital inflammation. A person with this infection is also at a higher risk of transmitting HIV to their partner.

In addition, trichomoniasis can lead to:

  • pregnancy complications, including preterm labor, premature rupture of membranes, and lower birth weight
  • inflamed prostate
  • testicular pain
  • swelling of a tube at the back of the testicles (epididymal swelling)
  • male infertility

People who are sexually active can reduce the risk of transmitting or contracting trichomoniasis by having sex with people who have negative STI results and using barrier methods such as male condoms.

Individuals should also discuss STI risks with new partners before engaging in sexual activity. People and their partners may wish to receive STI testing before having sex to ensure they do not have any STIs.

People who have symptoms of trichomoniasis, such as genital irritation, itching, unusual discharge, or discomfort, should consider asking a doctor about getting a trichomoniasis test.

However, because this STI often does not produce symptoms, people should also speak with a doctor or get a test if they:

  • received a diagnosis of a different STI
  • have a sexual partner who has tested positive for trichomoniasis or another STI
  • had sex without a condom or other barrier method with someone without knowing their sexual history

A person should follow up with their doctor after a positive test result. Their doctor can prescribe the necessary medication to treat the infection.

Questions to ask a doctor

A person may wish to ask the following questions when receiving testing or treatment for STIs:

  • How long does it take to receive the test results?
  • Which STIs should I receive testing for?
  • How often should I receive testing for STIs?
  • What are the potential complications of STIs?
  • What is the treatment for the infection?
  • Can medication cure the infection?
  • How long do I have to take the medication?
  • When can I have sex after testing positive for an STI?
  • Are there any ways to reduce the risk of transmitting or contracting an STI?

Anyone who suspects they have been exposed to trichomoniasis should receive testing as soon as possible. If a person is using an at-home test, they should follow all the directions from the company to ensure a more accurate result.

While awaiting test results, people should avoid having sex with another person to reduce the risk of transmitting trichomoniasis.

The following are the answers to some common questions about trichomoniasis testing.

Are at-home trichomoniasis tests accurate?

Currently, there are no clinical studies on the accuracy of at-home trichomoniasis testing. Companies that sell these tests typically claim they are accurate due to their use of accredited labs and physician reviews.

To ensure more accurate results, a person should follow all instructions in the test kit. Individuals should also follow up on any test results with a healthcare professional.

Is trichomoniasis included in standard STI testing?

Usually, a healthcare professional will test for certain STIs depending on the symptoms a person is experiencing and any risk factors. For example, the CDC recommends that men who have sex with men receive testing for HIV at least once a year.

If a person chooses to use an at-home STI test kit, they have the option of choosing from panel tests, which may include trichomoniasis, or tests that look for one or two specific STIs, such as gonorrhea and chlamydia.

Does trichomoniasis show up on a chlamydia test?

If a person purchases an at-home test for chlamydia or a healthcare professional only tests for this infection, trichomoniasis will not show up on the results.

Some at-home tests screen for more than one STI, and healthcare professionals may order more extensive testing, so a lab may use a single sample to check for trichomoniasis alongside other STIs.

Trichomoniasis is one of the most common STIs. The symptoms can include itching, discomfort, swelling, soreness around the genitals, and unusual discharge. However, these symptoms resemble those of many other conditions, and most people who get trichomoniasis do not have any symptoms.

The only way to be sure whether someone has this STI is to get a trichomoniasis test. People can get tests from healthcare professionals or use at-home tests. It is important to speak with a doctor to confirm the diagnosis and get appropriate treatment.