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how long does trichomoniasis last

By: RSC Editorial Team

September 1, 2023

How Long Does Trichomoniasis Last?

If you’ve recently contracted trichomoniasis, you’re probably wondering: How long does trichomoniasis last? Or maybe you’re concerned, thinking, “Why won’t my trichomoniasis go away?” 

The short answer is that, with the proper treatment, the infection should clear after seven days. However, failing to follow treatment instructions could cause this sexually transmitted infection (STI) to last longer or lead to more serious infections.

Staying informed about the symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, complications, and prevention measures for trichomoniasis can help you achieve the best outcomes with this infection. Continue reading to learn more about how long trichomoniasis lasts, how to treat it, and other essential information.

Understanding Trichomoniasis

Trichomoniasis, a.k.a. “trich,” is a common, treatable sexually transmitted disease caused by Trichomonas vaginalis (a causative parasite).

According to the CDC, around two million people in the U.S. contract trichomoniasis each year, though as many as 70% of cases present no symptoms. While men and women can contract trichomoniasis, it is more common in women than men and more prevalent in older women than younger women. 

Trichomoniasis spreads through sexual activity. The infection is most often present in the lower genital tract — the vagina, vulva, cervix, or urethra for women or the penis for men. The infection can spread through vaginal-penile sex, vaginal-vaginal sex, anal sex, oral sex, or even genital touching, but it cannot spread through sharing food and drinks or kissing. Contrary to some myths, you cannot get trichomoniasis from a UTI.

Because as many as 70% of people with trichomoniasis never develop symptoms, this STI can easily spread from person to person unawares. The incubation period for trichomoniasis is five to 28 days, though you may never experience any symptoms in this window. That’s why completing a routine rapid STD test is so important, especially after encounters with new sexual partners. 

Of the 30% of patients who experience symptoms of trichomoniasis, most are women. Men (or people assigned male at birth) rarely experience signs of infection; when they do, they may experience symptoms of urethritis, such as:

  • Burning after ejaculation
  • Painful urination
  • Froth-like discharge from the penis
  • Irritation or itching inside the penis

Women (or people assigned female at birth) tend to experience more noticeable symptoms than men. They may notice signs like:

  • Thin or foamy discharge
  • White, yellow, or green vaginal discharge with a foul, fishy odor
  • Pain or discomfort during sex
  • Painful urination
  • Irritation or redness around the vulva 

Who Is at Risk of Getting Trichomoniasis? 

Anyone of any age or sex can contract trichomoniasis. However, this infection is more common in black women and people assigned female at birth. The risk factors for trichomoniasis are similar to those for other STIs; you’ll have a higher risk if you don’t use condoms while having sex and/or have multiple sexual partners. 

Treating Trichomoniasis

Trichomoniasis isn’t particularly challenging to treat. Healthcare providers often prescribe oral antibiotic medications to kill Trichomonas vaginalis, the parasite causing the infection. Taking a round of antibiotics usually kills this infection.

So, how long does trichomoniasis last after beginning treatment? Most doctors prescribe antibiotics for five to ten days, during which the infection should subside.

The most commonly prescribed medication for trichomoniasis is metronidazole, which has a twice-a-day dosage. Depending on your health needs, your healthcare provider may prescribe it in a larger once-a-day dose. 

Tinidazole is another antibiotic your physician may prescribe if metronidazole doesn’t work. Both options are quite effective for treating trichomoniasis as long as you follow your doctor’s instructions. Both may produce side effects in some users, like nausea, vomiting, and headache. 

One of the most important instructions to remember is to avoid drinking alcohol while taking metronidazole or tinidazole and for at least three days after taking the last dose. Drinking alcohol while taking either of these medications can lead to severe nausea and vomiting. 

You must finish the full treatment schedule even after symptoms subside. Stopping your antibiotics early could cause the infection to return and resist future antibiotic treatments. You could also continue passing the infection back and forth between your partner. 

If you know you’ve been exposed to trichomoniasis, complete same-day STD testing at least one time during this window and one time after to ensure you didn’t pick up the infection. A typical STD test will be able to identify dormant trichomoniasis and distinguish it from successfully treated trichomoniasis, which will no longer show up on a test. 

Leaving Trichomoniasis Untreated

Many people leave trichomoniasis untreated for extended periods because they are unaware they have this sexually transmitted infection. This infection will not go away on its own, and you can continue passing it to sexual partners until you complete treatment. 

Leaving trichomoniasis untreated could increase your risk of contracting HIV if exposed. If you’re already HIV-positive, trichomoniasis can increase your risk of passing HIV to sexual partners. 

For people assigned female at birth, trichomoniasis may lead to a greater chance of experiencing pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). This condition is an infection of the uterus and Fallopian tubes that can lead to reproductive complications. 

Prevention Against Trichomoniasis

You can take a few measures to prevent yourself from contracting trichomoniasis through sexual contact. 

First, always use condoms during intercourse with a new person or with someone whose sexual history you do not fully know. Condoms aren’t just for preventing pregnancy; they can prevent the passage of sexually transmitted infections. 

Next, perform a 10-panel STD test routinely, especially before and after having sexual relations with a new partner. Some people have trichomoniasis for years because they never develop symptoms and don’t think to take an STD test. Identifying this STI early can help you avoid future complications. 

The most straightforward way to prevent STIs is to only engage in sex with a monogamous partner. However, if you decide to have multiple sexual partners, following safe sex practices can prevent you from contracting and spreading trichomoniasis and other STIs. 

If you are a woman, you can prevent the contraction of trichomoniasis and other STDs by avoiding douching. Vaginal douching removes healthy bacteria from the vagina, which can increase your chances of getting an STD.

It’s also a good idea to talk openly with your sexual partners about your risks for infection and sexual histories. Having a conversation before sexual contact can help you make an informed decision for your sexual health. 

It isn’t uncommon for patients to experience trichomoniasis reinfection a few months after ending treatment. Trichomoniasis usually doesn’t come back on its own; instead, it returns when patients do not wait until the infection is undetectable before having sex again. As a result, they pass it to their partner, who passes it back to them. 

You will generally need to avoid having sex until you’ve finished a full round of antibiotics to prevent recurrence. However, you should complete another STD test to ensure the infection has been fully eliminated.

Stay Informed About Your Sexual Health With Rapid STD Testing

How long does trichomoniasis last? For most people, the answer is around seven days after beginning a round of metronidazole or tinidazole. 

Prevent trichomoniasis complications by conducting routine STD tests. Order an STD test panel from Rapid STD Testing and stay informed about your sexual health. 


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By: RSC Editorial Team
September 1, 2023

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