STDs vs. STIs: What’s the Difference?


While the terms sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are frequently interchanged, there is one significant distinction between the two. STIs are not symptomatic, whereas STDs are.

Dr. Angela Jones, an ob-gyn at Healthy Woman Obstetrics and Gynecology in Monmouth, NJ, told Women’s Health; “You can have an infection, such as chlamydia, without symptoms”. “A illness merely means that the ailment’s symptoms are present, and we only refer to things as diseases when they have symptoms”. To put it another way, all STDs began out as STIs. When symptoms start to flare up, the nomenclature changes.

The goal of this distinction is to increase accuracy while also reducing stigma. Not everyone who has a STI will experience symptoms. Some STIs, such as herpes or the human papillomavirus (HPV), take months or even years to show symptoms. And some never show up at all. The term STI can be used to better precisely define these infections while also removing some of the stigma attached to the term STD.

When should you get tested ?

Symptoms of a STI can take a long time to show, depending on the type of infection. This is why it is critical for sexually active people to be tested. While it’s a good idea to get tested once a year, you should also get tested if you’ve had unprotected sex, sex with someone who has a STI or STD, had more than one sexual partner, or share needles or syringes (via Healthline).

It’s crucial to know what symptoms to look out for in addition to getting tested on a regular basis. Bumps or sores in and around the genital region, painful urination, pelvic pain, tingling or itching genitals, enlarged lymph nodes in the groin and neck, changes in the color and smell of vaginal discharge, swollen testicles, and penile discharge are all symptoms to look out for. Call your doctor if you suspect you have any of these symptoms so you can obtain a correct diagnosis.