Is chlamydia and Trichomonas the same thing?

Quick Answer

No, chlamydia and Trichomonas are not the same thing. Chlamydia is a bacterial sexually transmitted infection caused by the bacteria Chlamydia trachomatis. Trichomoniasis, or “trich”, is a common sexually transmitted disease caused by the protozoan parasite Trichomonas vaginalis. While both can be transmitted through sexual contact, they are different infections caused by different pathogens.

Differences Between Chlamydia and Trichomonas


– Chlamydia is caused by the bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis. Trichomonas is caused by the protozoan parasite Trichomonas vaginalis.


– Both chlamydia and Trichomonas are transmitted through sexual contact, including vaginal, oral, or anal sex. However, chlamydia can also be passed from an infected mother to her baby during childbirth.


– Chlamydia often has no symptoms, especially in women. When present, symptoms may include abnormal vaginal discharge, burning with urination, and abdominal or pelvic pain. Men may experience discharge, burning urination, or testicular pain.

– Trichomonas almost always causes symptoms, including frothy yellow-green vaginal discharge with a strong odor, genital itching and soreness, pain during sex and urination, and lower abdominal pain.


– Untreated chlamydia can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease, infertility, chronic pelvic pain, and ectopic pregnancy in women. In men, it may cause epididymitis and infertility.

– Trichomonas infection increases the risk of premature delivery, low birth weight babies, and HIV transmission if exposed. It can also lead to infection of the male reproductive system.


– Chlamydia is diagnosed through nucleic acid amplification tests (NAATs) on urine, vaginal, or cervical samples.

– Trichomonas testing involves microscopic examination or culture of vaginal discharge. NAAT may also be used.


– Chlamydia is treated with antibiotics, usually azithromycin or doxycycline. Dual therapy may be used in complicated cases.

– Metronidazole or tinidazole are used to treat trichomoniasis. Sex partners should also be treated.

More In-Depth Information on Chlamydia and Trichomonas

What is Chlamydia?

Chlamydia is a common sexually transmitted bacterial infection caused by the bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis. There are multiple strains or serovars of Chlamydia trachomatis that affect different sites, including the urogenital tract, rectum, throat, and eyes. Genital chlamydial infection is the most frequently reported bacterial sexually transmitted disease (STD) in the United States.

In women, cervical infection is the most common site, while in men urethral infection is typical. It can be spread through vaginal, anal, or oral sex with an infected partner. Ejaculation does not need to occur for transmission. It can also pass from a mother to her newborn during delivery, causing eye infections or pneumonia in some babies.

Many people with chlamydia have no symptoms. When present, symptoms may take 1 to 3 weeks to develop and can include:

– Abnormal vaginal discharge
– Burning or pain during urination
– Lower abdominal or pelvic pain
– Bleeding between periods

Men may experience watery or milky discharge from the penis, burning with urination, swelling and pain in one or both testicles, or itching around the opening of the penis.

If left untreated, chlamydia can lead to long-term health problems in both sexes, especially women. Up to 40% of women with untreated chlamydia develop pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), a serious infection of the uterus and fallopian tubes. This increases the risk of chronic pelvic pain, ectopic pregnancy, and infertility. In men, untreated infection may spread to the epididymis causing pain, fever, and possible infertility.

Screening is recommended annually for sexually active women under 25 and older women with risk factors. All pregnant women should also be tested. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends chlamydia testing for sexually active gay and bisexual men, and men who have sex with men. Recent or multiple partners also increases risk. Condoms can help reduce transmission, but do not protect all exposed areas.

Chlamydia is diagnosed through nucleic acid amplification tests on urine, vaginal, or cervical samples. A swab may be taken from the end of the penis in men. NAAT is highly sensitive and specific.

Chlamydia is readily treated and cured with oral antibiotics, usually azithromycin (a single dose) or doxycycline (a 7-14 day course). All sex partners from the prior 2 months should also be tested and treated if infected to prevent reinfection.

What is Trichomoniasis?

Trichomoniasis, also called “trich” or trich, is a common sexually transmitted disease caused by infection with the protozoan parasite Trichomonas vaginalis. It is one of the most prevalent non-viral STDs globally, with an estimated 3.7 million cases each year in the U.S. alone.

The Trichomonas vaginalis parasite is a flagellated protozoan that infects the lower genital tract in women and the urethra and prostate in men. Transmission occurs through sexual intercourse with an infected partner. The parasites can survive in wet environments, remaining viable for up to 45 minutes after being expelled from the body.

In women, trichomoniasis infection commonly occurs in the vagina, causing vaginitis. The vagina may appear reddened with a frothy yellow-green discharge, often described as having a “fishy” odor. Other symptoms include:

– Vaginal itching, soreness, or burning
– Painful urination
– Discomfort during sex
– Lower abdominal pain

Up to 70% of infected women have symptoms, while many men show no signs. Some males experience irritation inside the penis, mild discharge, or slight burning after urination or ejaculation.

Without treatment, trichomoniasis can persist for months or even years in women. In rare cases, it may spread to the fallopian tubes and uterus, increasing the risk of premature birth and low birth weight infants. Pregnant women with trich may pass it to their babies, causing eye, digestive system, and respiratory infections. It has also been associated with increased susceptibility to HIV.

Trichomoniasis is diagnosed through microscopic examination of vaginal discharge, urine, or semen samples. Saline wet mount is a common technique. The parasites may be seen moving on the slide. Nucleic acid amplification tests (NAATs) on urine, vaginal, or cervical specimens are also highly accurate.

Metronidazole and tinidazole are the only drugs proven safe and effective for trichomoniasis. Sex partners from the prior 60 days should also be treated. Metronidazole can be consumed as a single 2g oral dose or a 7-day regimen of 500mg twice daily. Tinidazole is given as a single 2g dose. Avoid alcohol during and for 3 days after treatment. Follow up testing is recommended after 3 months to confirm the infection has resolved. Using condoms during treatment may help prevent reinfection.

Key Differences


Chlamydia is caused by the bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis while trichomoniasis is caused by the protozoan parasite Trichomonas vaginalis. They are completely different organisms, though both are transmitted through sexual contact.


Chlamydia is a “silent” infection, causing no symptoms in the majority of cases. Trichomoniasis typically produces vaginal discharge, irritation, and inflammation. However, many men with trich are also asymptomatic.


Although NAATs can be used for both, chlamydia primarily relies on urine or swab samples. Trichomoniasis diagnosis often involves microscopy of vaginal discharge samples.


Chlamydia is treated with antibiotics while metronidazole or tinidazole work against trichomoniasis. Sex partners should also be treated.


Chlamydia leads to pelvic inflammatory disease, infertility, and pregnancy complications in women. Trichomoniasis is associated with premature rupture of membranes and preterm delivery during pregnancy.


To avoid contracting chlamydia, trichomoniasis, and other STDs:

– Use condoms correctly every time you have sex
– Limit sexual partners and avoid overlapping relationships
– Get tested regularly if sexually active, especially with new partners
– Ask partners to get tested before sex
– Avoid douching as it can disrupt normal vaginal flora

Annual chlamydia screening is recommended for all sexually active women under 25. Pregnant women should be tested to prevent transmission to their baby. Condom use further reduces the risk of spreading these and other STDs.

If you experience any unusual discharge, burning, itching, or other symptoms after intercourse, see a healthcare provider for evaluation. Both chlamydia and trich are curable with proper antibiotic treatment. Notify recent partners so they can also get tested and treated if necessary. This prevents further spread of infection.


In summary, chlamydia and Trichomonas infections are distinct sexually transmitted diseases caused by different pathogens. Chlamydia is a bacterial infection from Chlamydia trachomatis that often goes unnoticed, while Trichomonas results from a protozoan parasite and causes symptomatic vaginal infection in most women.

Both can be transmitted through sexual contact and have the potential for serious complications if left untreated. Chlamydia is tested via urine or genital swabs and treated with antibiotics. Trichomoniasis is diagnosed by microscopy or culture of discharge, requiring different medications.

Protect yourself by using condoms, limiting partners, and getting regular STD screening. Seek prompt treatment if you develop any unusual discharge, burning, or discomfort to stop these infections before they spread further. Understanding the differences between common STDs like chlamydia and Trichomonas can empower you to make informed choices about your sexual health.

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