UTIs and trichomoniasis (trich) are both infections of the urinary tract with similar symptoms. However, trich is a sexually transmitted infection, while a UTI is not. There are some other notable differences that can help you differentiate between the two. Trich has distinct symptoms, risk factors, methods of transmission, and treatment plans. One great way to find out if you have a UTI or trich is to use an at-home sexual health testing kit to monitor your sexual health.
In this article, we’ll discuss:
- The difference between UTIs and trich
- The definition of UTIs
- The definition of trich and how it differs from UTIs
- Can a UTI cause you to develop trichomoniasis?
- Common symptoms of trichomoniasis
- Common symptoms in women
- Common symptoms in men
- What a trichomoniasis treatment plan typically looks like
- Can a non-sexual transmission of trich occur?
- Other risk factors for developing UTIs
- How you can test for trichomoniasis from the privacy of your home
If you’ve ever had a urinary tract infection (UTI), you may have heard of trichomoniasis (trich) and wondered: Can you get trich from a UTI? It’s a question that’s worth exploring. Knowing if trichomoniasis is caused by a UTI ensures you can keep your sexual and reproductive health in good condition.
To learn if a UTI can cause trich, we’ll define and discuss the difference between trich and UTIs. Then, we’ll take a closer look at trich and its symptoms, treatment, and how you can test for trich and UTIs from the privacy of your own home with tests such as myLAB Box’s at-home sexual health tests.
UTI vs. Trich: What’s the Difference?
While a UTI and trichomoniasis are both infections of the urinary tract and reproductive system, there are some significant differences between them.
Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs)
UTIs are bacterial infections that occur in any part of the urinary system, including:
They are more common in women than in men. UTIs typically occur when bacteria enter the urinary tract through the urethra — the hollow tube that empties urine from the bladder when you urinate — and begin to multiply. Most commonly, bacteria from the anus can spread to the urethra and infect the urinary tract.
UTI symptoms can vary depending on which part of the urinary tract is infected. The most common symptoms include:
- A burning sensation during urination
- Passing frequent, small amounts of urine
- A strong, persistent urge to urinate
- Cloudy, bloody, or strong-smelling urine
- Pelvic pain
In more severe cases, symptoms can include chills, fever, and nausea.
Trichomoniasis is caused by a parasite called trichomonas vaginalis. It is one of the most common curable STIs in the world.
Trich is primarily transmitted through sexual contact, including vaginal, anal, and oral sex.
The parasite that causes trich thrives in warm, moist environments — such as the vagina, urethra, and foreskin — so it affects both men and women. However, women are more likely to develop it than men because the vaginal area is a warmer and more humid environment, making it easier for the parasite to grow and thrive.
You can get trich by having unprotected sex with an infected person. The risk of contracting it is higher if:
- You have multiple sexual partners
- You have a history of STIs
- You don’t use condoms during sex
Additionally, using certain birth control methods — such as an intrauterine device (IUD) — can increase the risk of developing trich.
Can a UTI Cause You To Develop Trichomoniasis?
So can a UTI cause trichomoniasis? There is no direct link between UTIs and trich. Bacteria cause UTIs, while a parasitic infection causes trich.
However, UTIs can lead to a weakened immune system if left untreated, making you more susceptible to other infections, including trich.
In some cases, the symptoms of trich may mimic the symptoms of a UTI. So it’s important to get tested for both UTI and trich, especially if you’re sexually active. You can go to the doctor for a genital examination and testing, which can involve urine or cotton swab sample collection and lab analysis.
It’s worth noting that there are several ways to prevent both UTIs and trich, including:
- Practicing safe sex
- Maintaining good genital hygiene
- Using condoms during sexual intercourse
- Wiping from front to back during urination
- Urinating before and after sexual intercourse
- Drinking plenty of fluids, especially water
Common Symptoms of Trichomoniasis
Though trich’s symptoms and signs of infection can mimic those of UTIs, they also have some differences that set them apart.
There are a variety of common symptoms of trich in women, including:
- Pain during sexual intercourse or urination
- Vaginal itching or burning
- Foul-smelling, green or yellow vaginal discharge
- Redness or swelling of the genital area
- Abdominal pain or discomfort, especially in the lower abdomen
- Abnormal bleeding or vaginal spotting
- Painful menstrual periods
- Discomfort during bowel movements
- Urinary urgency or frequency
Men can carry the trich infection with no signs or symptoms, which makes it easier to spread it. However, there are some common symptoms men may experience, including:
- White, thin discharge from the penis
- Painful urination
- Pain during ejaculation
- Frequent urinary urgency
- Swelling, soreness, and redness around the head of the penis or foreskin
What a Trichomoniasis Treatment Plan Typically Looks Like
If left untreated, trichomoniasis can lead to serious complications such as:
- Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) — an infection of a woman’s upper reproductive organs, including the fallopian tubes, uterus, or ovaries
- Infertility in women
- Increased risk of HIV transmission
So it’s vitally important to get proper treatment for trich as soon as possible.
Fortunately, you can take a course of oral or topical antibiotics to treat trich. Metronidazole and tinidazole are the most commonly prescribed antibiotics. You usually get a single dose or a week-long course to eliminate the infection.
During treatment, you may be advised to abstain from sexual activity or use condoms to avoid spreading the infection to your partners. You should also avoid drinking too much alcohol since it can interfere with the effectiveness of the antibiotics. In addition, doctors may recommend some home remedies or over-the-counter medications to alleviate symptoms, such as:
- Pain during urination
After completing the antibiotics course, you’ll usually have a follow-up test to confirm the infection is eliminated. Your clinician may also advise you to continue practicing safe sex and getting regular check-ups to prevent re-infection or other STIs.
Can a Non-Sexual Transmission of Trich Occur?
Trich can be transmitted through several non-sexual means, such as:
- Mother-to-child transmission during childbirth
- Sharing infected personal items, such as towels or washcloths
- Contaminated objects such as sex toys or toilet seats
Other Risk Factors for Developing UTIs
UTIs can develop in several other ways besides bacteria spreading from the anus to the urethra.
Sexual activity can also introduce bacteria into the urinary tract. In some cases, urine may harbor bacteria which can be present in the urinary tract for long periods, leading to recurrent infections.
Other factors that can increase the likelihood of developing a UTI include:
- Immune system disorders and diseases: People with weakened immune systems are more susceptible to UTIs.
- Diabetes: Changes in the urinary tract can occur because of high blood sugar levels.
- Pregnancy: The enlarged uterus puts pressure on the bladder, causing incomplete emptying of urine and an increased risk of bacterial growth in the urinary tract.
- Menopause: Reduced estrogen levels can cause changes in the urinary tract.
- Heavy antibiotic use: Frequent use of antibiotics can disrupt the natural balance of bacteria in the urinary tract, allowing harmful bacteria to flourish.
- Kidney stones: Kidney stones can create a blockage in the urinary tract, making it easier for bacteria to build up.
Test for Trichomoniasis From the Privacy of Your Home
In conclusion, UTIs and trichomoniasis are two different conditions. However, their symptoms can overlap, so you should see a healthcare professional for both. They can be inconvenient and uncomfortable, but you can prevent and manage them with the right treatments. Taking the proper steps to manage your symptoms as soon as possible may help you avoid potential complications for both bacterial and parasitic infections.
One primary way to identify whether you have a UTI or trich is through testing. Thankfully, you don’t have to put up with long waits and embarrassing conversations at the doctor’s office.
You can test for UTIs and trich from home with at-home tests like myLAB Box’s sexual health tests. Simply order the tests online and get them delivered to your door discretely and privately. You can get results within 2-5 days and consult with a healthcare professional about your results. Check out our wide variety of sexual health tests today to take your sexual health into your own hands.
- Medical News Today: Urinary tract infection (UTI) symptoms, causes, and remedies
- Office on Women’s Health: Trichomoniasis
- Health.com: How To Prevent a UTI: 8 Tips That Can Help
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) – CDC Basic Fact Sheet
- National Health Service: Trichomoniasis – Treatment
- Verywell Health: UTIs: Causes and Risk Factors