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Trichomoniasis is a sexually transmitted infection (STI). According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), trichomoniasis is the most common curable STI. Getting tested for trichomoniasis is the only way to know if you have contracted the infection.

The CDC estimates that 2.1 percent of sexually active women and 0.5 percent of sexually active men contract trichomoniasis each year. In 2018, there were approximately 2.6 million cases of trichomoniasis in the United States.

Though millions of people contract trichomoniasis each year, the World Health Organization (WHO) states that trichomoniasis is generally curable with antibiotics.

Trichomoniasis is caused by an infection with a parasite. It’s transmitted through sexual contact without a condom or other barrier method. In people with a vulva, the infection can occur in the vagina, urethra, or both. In people with a penis, it occurs only in the urethra.

Though it’s common, most people with an infection do not experience symptoms. Only about 30 percent of people with an infection have symptoms.

“Trichomoniasis is the most common nonviral sexually transmitted infection worldwide, caused by the protozoan parasite Trichomonas vaginalis,” says Christine Vo, MD, FACOG, a doctor in Nebraska who specializes in obstetrics and gynecology. “Women are affected more often than men.”

People with a vulva aren’t just more often affected. According to the advocacy group Planned Parenthood, they’re also more likely to experience symptoms.

The majority of people who have trichomoniasis exhibit no symptoms. Some people with a vulva, however, may experience symptoms such as:

  • itching
  • burning
  • pain
  • bleeding
  • unusual discharge

“Men typically are asymptomatic in the majority of cases,” Vo says. “Although once it progresses, men may develop symptoms of discharge from the urethra, burning with urination, or a burning sensation in the penis after sexual intercourse.”

Trichomoniasis is fairly common and its symptoms are usually mild. The two forms of treatment, metronidazole and tinidazole, are highly effective.

However, prevention of trichomoniasis is especially important in people with a vulva, since transmission can increase the risk of HIV and other STIs.

Untreated trichomoniasis can also lead to pelvic inflammatory disease in this group, which can have complications related to fertility or chronic pain.

Symptoms of trichomoniasis

  • irritation in the genitals
  • burning or discomfort when urinating
  • pain during sex
  • vaginal bleeding after sex
  • unusual discharge that is yellow-green with a strong odor
  • genital inflammation
  • lower abdominal pain

Many doctors don’t test patients annually for STIs. If you’re concerned, tell your doctor about your symptoms and request STI testing.

“The CDC recommends screening for trichomoniasis in women at increased risk for infection, including those with new or multiple sexual partners or a history of sexually transmitted infections,” Vo says.

If you’re pregnant, the CDC recommends that you get screened for STIs like trichomoniasis, as STIs during pregnancy can cause complications for you and your baby.

Also, get tested again if you’ve had trichomoniasis recently and your symptoms have returned. According to the CDC, about 1 in 5 people contract trichomoniasis again shortly after treatment.

Testing is the only way to accurately diagnose trichomoniasis. There are several testing options. You can seek in-office testing or order at-home STI tests.

“In the office, testing is completed by taking a swab of the vaginal discharge or urine testing,” Vo says. “Newer tests using DNA have been more readily available, and are also used in the clinical setting.”

At-home testing is also an option for those who want a discreet and cost-effective way to screen for trichomoniasis. This may also appeal to people who do not want STI testing on their medical record.

How to get the test

Getting your at-home trichomoniasis test starts with placing an order online. Several companies, such as Everlywell and LetsGetChecked, offer affordable and convenient at-home tests.

Most at-home testing companies offer discreet packaging since the test will be delivered to your mailing address.

Preparing for the test at home

  • Avoid having sex before taking the test. If you have symptoms or think you might have an STD, it’s best to stay abstinent until after getting your results.
  • Don’t use any washes, deodorant sprays, or other powders on your genitals. They could irritate the area.
  • Try to take your test when you don’t have your period. If you’re having any unusual bleeding, make an appointment with your doctor right away.
  • Don’t douche for at least 24 hours prior to taking your test. Douching washes away the vaginal fluids that are needed for the test. It’s best not to douche at all, actually.

How to take the test

When you receive the at-home testing kit, it will contain everything you need inside to take the test and ship it back. You may need to register your kit online to make viewing the results easy.

Most at-home trichomoniasis tests require a urine sample. Some tests may require you to use a cotton swab to take a sample from inside the genitals.

Kits that test for multiple STIs at one time may require multiple testing methods, including finger pricks for a blood sample.

Each company has its own testing materials and processes, so read the instructions carefully.

How to submit the test

To return the test, pack your samples and ship the kit according to the instructions. Most at-home testing companies provide a prepaid shipping label, so returning the test is as easy as dropping it in the nearest mailbox.

How to get the results

The results of the test should be viewable online within a few days.

What to do if you test positive

Contact your doctor as soon as possible so that they can prescribe you antibiotics. Trichomoniasis does not go away on its own, so you will need to be treated.

A round of antibiotics can typically cure trichomoniasis in about 7 to 10 days. But it’s very important that you connect with your doctor to get the most up-to-date information from them on next steps.

At-home testing is more private, convenient, and accessible than in-office testing. It may also be less expensive than a doctor’s visit. Still, you may wonder whether at-home tests are accurate.

According to Vo, “At-home STD screening is a valid alternative for women since detection rates are comparable to samples obtained in a clinic and very well accepted among women.”

There are disadvantages of taking at-home tests, however. Trichomoniasis tests are most accurate when taken 3 weeks after sexual intercourse. Taking an at-home test too soon may skew the results.

Not following the instructions may also lead to inaccurate results.

Generally, visiting your doctor or another healthcare professional is the most reliable method of STI testing.

LetsGetChecked

  • Price: $119
  • Tests for: trichomoniasis, chlamydia, gonorrhea
  • Results turnaround time: 2 to 5 days
  • Insurance accepted: No, LetsGetChecked does not accept health insurance.
  • Certification: FDA-approved laboratory tests, CLIA certified and CAP accredited labs
  • Physician support included: Yes, a nurse will call you to go over your results and discuss treatment options if needed.

Everlywell

  • Price: $49
  • Tests for: trichomoniasis
  • Results turnaround time: 5 business days
  • Insurance accepted: No, Everlywell does not accept health insurance, but some health insurance companies will reimburse you for health testing.
  • Certification: FDA-approved laboratory tests and CLIA certified labs
  • Physician support included: Yes, if a positive result is detected, a healthcare professional will go over the results and prescribe medication when eligible.

myLAB Box

  • Price: $89
  • Tests for: trichomoniasis
  • Results turnaround time: 2 to 5 days
  • Insurance accepted: No, myLAB Box does not take payment from health insurance providers.
  • Certification: FDA-approved laboratory tests and CLIA certified labs
  • Physician support included: Yes, you can get a free physician consultation for positive results.

iDNA

  • Price: $78
  • Tests for: trichomoniasis
  • Results turnaround time: 2 to 7 days
  • Insurance accepted: No, iDNA does not accept health insurance, but you may be able to file a claim for reimbursement from your insurance provider.
  • Certification: FDA-approved laboratory tests and CLIA certified labs
  • Physician support included: Consultation with a healthcare professional is not available, but iDNA offers a free retest after a positive result.

Nurx

  • Price: $190
  • Tests for: HIV, chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, trichomoniasis
  • Results turnaround time: within 7 days
  • Insurance accepted: Yes, Nurx accepts some health insurance plans, though out-of-pocket expenses may apply.
  • Certification: CAP and CLIA certified labs
  • Physician support included: Yes, the Nurx medical team will consult with you to determine next steps and treatment options if results are positive.

Health Testing Centers

  • Price: $79
  • Tests for: trichomoniasis
  • Results turnaround time: 3 to 4 days
  • Insurance accepted: No, Health Testing Centers does not accept insurance.
  • Certification: CLIA certified labs
  • Physician support included: Yes, free physician consultation is included if the test results are positive.

Does health insurance cover at-home trichomoniasis tests?

Most insurance plans cover the cost of in-office STI tests, though coverage depends on many factors.

The coverage of at-home tests, however, varies greatly. Some people will have to pay out of pocket for at-home tests.

While there are affordable tests, other options include free or low-cost STI testing.

How often should I get tested?

People who are sexually active with more than one sexual partner should get tested for STIs regularly. The CDC has screening recommendations for adults and adolescents.

Though there are no recommendations for trichomoniasis, people who are at high risk of contracting STIs can discuss getting tested regularly with a doctor or other healthcare professional.

Can trichomoniasis go away on its own?

Trichomoniasis should not be left untreated. It does not go away on its own.

Without treatment, trichomoniasis can lead to severe health problems, especially in people with a vulva. It can also contribute to the transmission of STIs to other partners.

Usually, trichomoniasis is treatable with a single round of antibiotics.

Does trichomoniasis show up on a chlamydia test?

Trichomoniasis can look and act like chlamydia and gonorrhea, which is why many of the at-home STI tests check for all three. It will not show up on a chlamydia test, however, so it’s best to be tested for all STIs in order to be sure you do not have trichomoniasis.

Testing for STIs like trichomoniasis has some stigma surrounding it, but sexual health is nothing to be shy about. Since most doctors don’t routinely check for STIs, ask your doctor about testing or explore other options.

Getting tested in a clinical setting is generally the most reliable method of STI testing. If you’re sexually active and want to get tested for trichomoniasis, at-home tests are also an option.

Lacey Bourassa is a health, wellness, and beauty writer based in Southern California. She holds a BA in English. Her work has appeared in digital publications like Livestrong, Verywell, Business Insider, Eat This Not That, and others. When she’s not writing, Lacey is likely pursuing her other interests: skin care, plant-based cooking, pilates, and traveling. You can keep up with her by visiting her website or her blog.