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Yoxly Awesome Contributors

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Medically Reviewed by:

Dr Danae Maragouthakis

What is trichomonas vaginalis (TV)?

Have you heard people talking about TV, or are you worried you might have it? 

Trichomonas vaginalis (TV) is a sexually transmitted bug that causes the infection known as trichomoniasis. We are here to tell you what it is, how it spreads, how you can tell if you have it and most importantly, how you get rid of it. So read on if you are intrigued!

Trichomonas vaginalis, “trich” or “TV” for short, is not some kind of object from outer space. Instead, it is a parasite which likes to live in the urogenital tract - i.e. the vagina, penis or the urethra (the tube that carries urine out of the body). Interestingly, the parasite does not tend to survive in the mouth or anus. 

NB: A parasite is defined as an organism that lives at the expense of another organism.

Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about TV. 

How does it spread? 

TV is a sexually transmitted infection (STI), and as the name would suggest, it spreads through sexual intercourse, particularly penile penetration into a vagina or from vagina to vagina. It does not commonly spread via anal or oral sex. Check out our article on the “5 ways to reduce your risk of getting an STI” for more information on the spread of STIs!

How common is TV? 

TV is possibly the most common non-viral STI in the world, but it is rare in the UK. There is limited data on the prevalence of TV in the UK; however, it is estimated that less than 1% of people in the UK are infected. We know that it appears to be more common in women, with 90% of diagnosed cases in the UK being in females, and it is possibly more common in black and mixed-ethnicity people. 

How do I know if I have TV? 

Up to 85% of people infected with TV will not have any symptoms, so they may not know they are infected. Check out our article on “the most common STI symptom? No symptom at all” for more information! Symptoms can take 5–28 days (known as the incubation period) to appear, so you might not notice anything different initially. The only sure-fire way to know if you have TV is to take a test. 

Symptoms of TV include penile or vaginal discharge, which is often white or frothy in appearance, pain when passing urine or discomfort or itching around the vulva. But again, you may have some, none or all of these symptoms - so your best way of knowing is by doing a test! 

When should I have a test for TV? 

You should get tested for TV if: 

  • You have symptoms that may indicate TV infection 
  • A recent sexual partner has tested positive for TV
  • Your doctor has recommended it.

Tests are available here at Yoxly as part of our Basic+, Standard and Comprehensive kits. 

The window period (the time from infection until a test is accurate) for TV is up to 28 days, which means a test may not be accurate until 28 days (4 weeks) after any potential exposure through unprotected sex. 

Why not try our window period calculator to help guide you further on when to get tested?

You may also be recommended a routine test for TV if: 

  • You are pregnant
  • You have another STI 
  • You are undergoing fertility treatment.

What is the treatment for TV? And how long does TV last? 

TV is usually treated with 5–7 days of antibiotics, usually taken twice daily. You should avoid sexual intercourse for at least 1 week and until your partner(s) have completed any testing, treatment and follow-up. 

Can TV go away on its own? 

TV can, in rare cases, spontaneously resolve, particularly in men. But if you have tested positive for TV, treatment is recommended.

What happens if I don’t get treatment? 

Complications of TV are rare; however, there is some emerging evidence that ongoing TV infection can place an individual at higher risk of contracting other STIs, including HIV. Untreated TV infection can also lead to pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). There is also evidence that TV infection while pregnant is associated with adverse outcomes such as preterm birth.

Do I need to tell my partners? 

If you test positive for TV, you should inform your current partners and any partners within the last 4 weeks, as they may also need testing and treatment. However, once the infection has been cleared, there is no requirement to tell future partners of a past TV infection. 

How do I prevent getting TV? 

The best way to avoid getting TV is using barrier contraception, i.e. male or female condoms. Read our article “Types of Condoms” to learn more about picking the right condom for you and your partner. Ensure you use a condom for all types of sex – STIs can be transmitted through oral and anal too!

Can I get a TV infection in a neovagina? 

Currently, there have been no case reports of TV in people with a neovagina following gender reassignment surgery. 

Can TV be spread through kissing? 

No, TV cannot be passed on through kissing, hugging, sharing cutlery or towels or via toilet seats. Check out our article, “Can you get herpes from a toilet seat”, for more information!

Can TV spread via sex toys? 

Yes, TV can be spread via sex toys where there is any risk of transferring bodily fluids. We recommend using a new condom each time you use a sex toy and washing and storing your toys properly. 

What happens if I get TV and I am pregnant? 

If you get a TV infection during pregnancy, there is a risk of early delivery (premature birth) or a baby with low birth weight. There is also a small chance of transmission of TV to the baby. TV treatment is safe to take during pregnancy; however, when breastfeeding, the treatment may alter the taste of the breast milk, so you may have to express and get rid of the breast milk whilst on treatment. 

There is no current evidence that TV infection impacts fertility. 


Trichomonas vaginalis (TV) is a little-known STI that often isn’t tested for in a routine STI screen. TV is passed on through unprotected intercourse and may cause symptoms such as vaginal discharge and discomfort passing urine. At Yoxly, we test for TV as part of our Basic+, Standard and Comprehensive kits. TV is easily treated, and if you test positive, we will advise you exactly how to get effective treatment and follow-up.

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Yoxly's Awesome Contributors (YACs) are a diverse group of individuals who are passionate about public health, and committed to furthering our mission. Yoxly provides a platform where a variety of sexual health topics (some more awkward than others!) can be explored, in an informative and non-judgmental way. If you'd like to become one of Yoxly's Awesome Contributors, contact us!