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Difference Between Trichomonas and Giardia

Trichomonas is a unicellular organism that causes trichomoniasis in people. Giardia is a single-celled organism that causes giardiasis.

What is Trichomonas?


Trichomonas is a microscopic eukaryote that causes infections in the genitals and urinary tract.

Illness caused and transmission:

Trichomonas causes an infection called trichomoniasis. This is due to the parasite infecting the urogenital system of people. This is a sexually transmitted infection (STI). 


The signs of infection in women include the occurrence of a foul yellow-green discharge from the vagina as well as itching and painful urination. In males, often there may be no signs or, in some cases, a foul discharge from the urethra and some minor irritation due to inflammation of the urethra. 


In males, trichomoniasis can result in inflammation of the epididymis and inflammation of the prostate gland. In females, the infection can cause pelvic inflammatory disease when it spreads to the ovaries and fallopian tubes.


Symptoms may suggest that a person has the infection but it is difficult to diagnose without further tests since bacterial vaginosis can produce the same symptoms. A vaginal or cervical sample can be taken and examined under the microscope for the presence of the organism; the organism can be detected in a Pap test. PCR and testing for the DNA of the Trichomonas organism can be done. In fact, this method is considered the only way to diagnose the infection in men.


Treatment involves using tinidazole or metronidazole. These are given as oral medications for at least a week. 

What is Giardia?


Giardia is a type of protist that causes an intestinal problem called giardiasis.

Illness caused and transmission:

Giardiasis is an infection that happens when you are infected with Giardia. The most common way people get infected is by swallowing contaminated water. There is a small chance of sexual transmission as well.


Symptoms include watery and foul-smelling diarrhea, bloating, flatulence, nausea, cramps, tiredness, malabsorption, and loss of appetite. There are many people who may have little to no symptoms even though they have giardiasis.


Giardia can damage the intestines resulting in irritable bowel syndrome and chronic diarrhea. The condition can also cause difficulty in absorbing fats and simple sugars and can result in lactose intolerance.  A child with the disease can suffer from stunted growth and malabsorption of important nutrients needed for normal growth and development.


Symptoms may suggest giardiasis but the best way is to test the stool for the presence of the parasite. This is done by enzyme immunoassay where the antigen of the Giardia is tested for. It is not easy to simply identify the actual parasite in a stool sample because the release of the entire parasite from the body is unpredictable.


The treatment options include using medications such as nitazoxanide or metronidazole. 

Difference between Trichomonas and Giardia?


Trichomonas is a protist that causes trichomoniasis. Giardia is a protist that causes giardiasis.

Mode of transmission

The way people get infected with Trichomonas is through sexual activity. Giardia is transmitted when people ingest contaminated water or touch surfaces contaminated with the parasite.


The symptoms of trichomoniasis in women include producing a foul yellow-green vaginal discharge and itching; men may have a urethral discharge but often have mild or no symptoms. The symptoms of giardiasis include having diarrhea that is watery and has a foul odor, flatulence, nausea, stomach cramps, fatigue, and malabsorption of nutrients.


Complications that can occur when you have an infection with Trichomonas include contracting other STIs including HIV, and it can also lead to pelvic inflammatory disease if the protist moves higher up into the pelvis. Chronic diarrhea and irritable bowel syndrome are complications of having Giardia.


Tinidazole and metronidazole are medications used to treat trichomoniasis. Nitazoxanide and metronidazole are the medicines used to treat giardiasis.

Table comparing Trichomonas and Giardia

Summary of Trichomonas Vs. Giardia

  • Trichomonas and Giardia are both unicellular eukaryotic cells in the Kingdom Protista.
  • Trichomonas is a sexually transmitted infection that affects the reproductive and urinary systems.
  • Giardia is very rarely sexually transmitted and it affects the intestines.


What is unique about Giardia and Trichomonas?

The unique feature of both Giardia and Trichomonas is the fact that there are no mitochondria nor a Golgi apparatus present in the cell, in each case.

What is the difference between Giardia and giardiasis?

Giardia is the name of the organism that causes the disease known as giardiasis.

Is giardiasis an STD?

Giardiasis is not often thought of as an STD but sexual transmission is possible in certain cases.

Can trichomoniasis be found in stool?

Trichomonas, the protist that can cause trichomoniasis, can be found in the stool at times.

Is diarrhea a symptom of trichomoniasis?

Diarrhea is not a symptom of human trichomoniasis.

Can trichomoniasis cause intestinal problems?

Trichomoniasis does not cause intestinal problems in humans. 

Who is the most common victim of Giardia?

Children are much more prone to becoming infected with this parasite because they have poorer hygiene habits than adults. Giardia can be transmitted from feces to mouth.

What color is Giardia poop?

Giardia stool has a greenish hue and there may be blood present as well.

What are signs of Giardia in humans? 

The signs of having giardiasis from Giardia infection include upset stomach, stomach cramps, nausea, and fatigue. Many people with giardiasis have no symptoms or signs of infection.

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References :

[0]Escobedo, Angel A., et al. "Sexual transmission of giardiasis: a neglected route of spread?" Acta Tropica 132 (2014): 106-111.

[1]Rein, Michael F. "Trichomoniasis." Hunter's tropical medicine and emerging infectious diseases. Elsevier, 2020. 731-733.

[2]Sheldon Morris, R. “Trichomoniasis.” Merckmanuals. Merck & Co., 2020, https://www.msdmanuals.com/professional/infectious-diseases/sexually-transmitted-infections-stis/trichomoniasis

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