There are several ways to test for Trichomonas (“trich”) and different providers may use different methods. Trichomonas is a motile one-cell parasite which can be viewed in a “wet preparation” of a vaginal swab on a slide under the microscope by the clinician. It is diagnosed by its motion on the slide under the magnification of the microscope.
Another way to detect it is to take a vaginal swab and send it to the laboratory for culture, which is a method to grow it; it is a little more sensitive than viewing it directly on a wet prep.
Recently, there is a new molecular test that is much more sensitive (more accurate) than “wet prep” or culture that amplifies the DNA from the swab or urine or a liquid PAP specimen. This is much like PCR or polymerase chain reaction that is powerful method for diagnosing infections. Tests for chlamydia, gonorrhea, and trichomonas can all be performed from a single swab or from urine using the new molecular method. Your doctor may have needed a separate swab for trichomonas if she/he was using a wet prep or culture method. The number of swabs (or use of urine) all depends on the type test the doctor is using.
–Charlotte A. Gaydos, DrPH, MPH, MS