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Trichomonas vaginalis - Diagnosing trichomoniasis

NHS Choices Medical Reference

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Trichomoniasis can sometimes be difficult to diagnose because symptoms are similar to those of other sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

If you do not want to see your GP, go to your local genitourinary medicine (GUM) clinic, where they will be able to test and treat your infection. Find your nearest sexual health clinic.

Examination

If your GP or nurse suspects you have trichomoniasis, they will usually carry out an examination of your genital area.

In women, trichomoniasis may cause red blotches on the walls of the vagina and on the cervix (the neck of the womb).

If you are a man with suspected trichomoniasis, your GP or nurse will examine your penis for signs of inflammation.

Laboratory testing

After your physical examination, your GP or nurse may need to take a swab from either the vagina or penis so that it can be tested for the trichomoniasis infection. The swab will be sent to a laboratory for analysis. It may take several days for the results to come back.

If your GP or nurse strongly suspects that you have trichomoniasis, you may be advised to begin a course of treatment before your results come back. This will ensure that your infection is treated as soon as possible and reduces the risk of the infection spreading.

Sometimes, the result of a routine smear test may report that "organisms consistent with Trichomonas vaginalis have been seen". This does not necessarily mean that you have trichomoniasis, so do not assume that you have a sexually transmitted infection (STI) until further tests have been done.

In men, a urine sample can also be tested for trichomoniasis.

Notifying sexual partners

If the test shows that you have trichomoniasis, it is very important that your current sexual partner and any other recent partners are also tested and treated. The staff at the clinic or general practice can discuss with you which of your sexual partners may need to be tested.

You may be given a contact slip to send or give to your partner or partners or, with your permission, the clinic can do this for you. The slip explains that they may have been exposed to an STI and suggests that they go for a check-up. It may or may not say what the infection is. It will not have your name on it, so your confidentiality is protected.

This is called partner notification. You are strongly advised to tell your partner or partners, but it is not compulsory.

If you have had trichomoniasis and been cured, there is no need to tell any future partners that you had it.

Medical Review: February 27, 2012
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