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This gram-stained micrograph of a urethral discharge

Signs of infection

Symptoms usually appear from 5 to 28 days after exposure and can include

  • Yellow-green (sometimes frothy) vaginal discharge with a foul odor
  • Discomfort during sex and when passing urine
  • Irritation and itching in the genital area
  • Lower abdominal pain in rare cases

Scientific photos

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How people get trichomoniasis

The parasite is passed from an infected person to an uninfected person during sex. In women, the most commonly infected part of the body is the lower genital tract vulva vagina or urethra and in men the most commonly infected body part is the inside of the penis urethra. During sex the parasite is usually transmitted from a penis to a vagina or from a vagina to a penis but it can also be passed from a vagina to another vagina. It is not common for the parasite to infect other body parts like the hands mouth, or anus. It is unclear why some people with the infection get symptoms while others do not but it probably depends on factors like the person’s age and overall health. Infected people without symptoms can still pass the infection on to others.