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Can Trichomoniasis Be Confused With Chlamydia?

Illustration of woman having questions about trichomoniasis and chlamydia

Comparing Trichomoniasis and Chlamydia

Differentiating between trichomoniasis and chlamydia can be difficult because they present many of the same symptoms – or show no symptoms at all. Can trichomoniasis be confused with chlamydia? Yes, it is possible to confuse the two. If you are worried you may have contracted an STD, whether chlamydia or trichomoniasis, you should get tested as soon as possible. MyLAB Box offers Safe Box, an at home STD test kit that will test for chlamydia, gonorrhea, HIV, and trichomoniasis.

Remember, being symptom-free does not mean that you are not infected.

Understanding Trichomoniasis

Chlamydia and trichomoniasis are similar infections and they are commonly confused, but it’s important to know the difference, as the two infections are not treated with the same antibiotic. Trichomoniasis (trich) is caused by a parasite called Trichomonas Vaginalis. Testing for trich is important because in most cases it does not present any noticeable symptoms. This means that you cannot rely on the presence or absence of symptoms to know whether or not you are free of infections.

What are the Symptoms of Trich?

Symptoms in Women

  • Irritation/itching around the vaginal area
  • Frothy/discolored discharge
  • Strong odor
  • Pain during intercourse
  • Pain when urinating

Symptoms in Men

Most men do not present symptoms. When they do, these are some of the signs to watch out for:

  • Pain when urinating
  • Pain when ejaculating
  • Discharge
  • Discomfort in the crotch area

Transmission Questions: Can a Man Give a Woman Trichomoniasis?

One of the most common search terms for trich is “can a man give a woman trichomoniasis?” The short answer is yes. Absolutely. Trich affects both men and women. The infection can be spread through sexual intercourse as well as skin-to-skin contact. However, it is not spread by shaking hands, kissing, or other types of touching.

The CDC estimates that nearly three million people in the United States are infected with trich. If symptoms do present themselves, they may appear from anywhere between a few days and several months after the infection begins. If you do not have any symptoms, you can still infect others. Women are more likely to experience symptoms than men. The reasons for this are varied. In many cases, it is suspected that trich and semen don’t quite mix. Prostatic fluid, which is a secretion from the prostate, is one of the components that make up semen. It is possible that this fluid can damage the parasite. That’s good news for men, but it’s not exactly comforting for women. It can still be passed between partners, no matter what.

How Can You Get Trichomoniasis If No One Cheats?

So, since we’re talking about uncomfortable subjects… let’s address the elephant in the room. If someone suddenly tests positive for trich, does it mean that they’ve been unfaithful to their partner? The answer is likely to be yes. There are actually several ways you can catch trich without sexual intercourse, but none of them are very likely. After all, trich is spread through semen and vaginal secretions.

Possible Though Unlikely Sources of Trich

There are a few ways that trich can be spread without having sexual relations:

  • Public Pools. If the water in a community swimming pool is not properly cleaned and filtered, it is possible for the parasite to survive and infect others.
  • Sharing damp clothing, towels or swimsuits: Much like the pool, if clothes are not properly washed, it is technically possible for the infection to spread from wearer to wearer.

Of course, please remember that sexual activity is by far the most common source of infection. While these potential sources can be comforting to a worried partner, they are quite unlikely to actually be the cause. Compared to skin-to-skin contact, the reports of trich being spread through these means are few and far between.

Most importantly, remember how long trichomoniasis can live in a body

Here’s one last bit of hope. For partners hoping for a more realistic source of infection, keep in mind the length of time that trichomoniasis can live in a body. Due to the stealthy nature of the infection, a person may unknowingly carry trich for months without realizing it.

In this sense, this can be a bright light for concerned couples. After all, it is possible that your partner may have been infected during a previous sexual encounter, but was never aware of the infection. Now that the symptoms are present, it seems like a brand new case of trich. Of course, it is also possible that you were infected by a past encounter and never realized it. No matter what, the most important piece of the puzzle is that you and your partner test regularly.

The Other Side: Understanding Chlamydia

Now that we’ve learned about trich, let’s talk about chlamydia. Chlamydia is a disease caused by the bacteria Chlamydia trachomatis. Like trich, chlamydia may never develop noticeable symptoms. If symptoms do occur, they are typically mild and appear within three weeks of initial infection.

Causes of Chlamydia

Intercourse without a condom and unprotected oral sex are the most common ways to contract chlamydia. Penetration does not have to occur for the infection to spread. Men and women are both at risk for infection but, like trich, women are more likely to be diagnosed. As you can see, both of these infections put people with vaginas at a severe disadvantage.

Symptoms of Chlamydia

  • Pain when urinating
  • Frothy/discolored discharge
  • Pain in lower abdomen
  • Pain in crotch area
  • Pain during intercourse

Chlamydia and Trichomoniasis Treatment

Fortunately, trich and chlamydia can be treated with antibiotics. If diagnosed, a doctor can write a prescription for oral medicines or injections. It is important that you take all of your prescribed medications, even if your symptoms dissipate.

Staying Healthy

Let your doctor know if you have any questions or are unable to follow a treatment plan. If you have been diagnosed with an STD or STI, it is also important to tell all of your sexual partners and recommend that they be tested and treated as well. Your partners may not know that they are infected. Abstain from sexual contact until you have successfully completed treatment.

Practicing safe sex will greatly reduce your risk of infection.


  1. Patricia Kissinger. (2015). Trichomonas vaginalis: a review of epidemiologic, clinical and treatment issues. BMC Infect Dis.
  2. Jane R. Schwebke and Donald Burgess. (2004). Trichomoniasis. Clin Microbiol Rev.
  3. Roger C. Tine, Khadime Sylla, Rougyatou Ka, Lamine Dia, Doudou Sow, Souleye Lelo, Khardiata Diallo, Babacar Faye, Thérèse Dieng, Cheikh T. Ndour, and Ahmet Y. Sow. (2019). A Study of Trichomonas vaginalis Infection and Correlates in Women with Vaginal Discharge Referred at Fann Teaching Hospital in Senegal. Journal of Parasitology Research.
  4. Fabiane Aguiar dos Anjos Gatti, Etienne Ceolan, Fernando Salles Rodrigues Greco, Paula Costa Santos, Gabriel Baracy Klafke, Gisele Rodrigues de Oliveira, Andrea Von Groll, Ana Maria Barral de Martinez, Carla Vitola Gonçalves, Carlos James Scaini. (2017). The prevalence of trichomoniasis and associated factors among women treated at a university hospital in southern Brazil. PLOS ONE.
  5. David Soper, MD. (2004). Trichomoniasis: under control or undercontrolled? American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology.
  6. Barbara Van Der Pol. (2015). Clinical and Laboratory Testing for Trichomonas vaginalis Infection. American Society for Microbiology.

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