What Are STDs and STIs
June 04, 2021 | Farah Jassawalla

What Are STDs and STIs

Sexually transmitted diseases and sexually transmitted infections — we often hear these two phrases being thrown around interchangeably, so is there even a difference? The short answer is yes, there is. Let us start with the definition of each.

Sexually Transmitted Infections

STIs are infections passed from one person to another through sex, including vaginal, oral or anal contact. They do not include active symptoms.

Sexually Transmitted Diseases

STDs are the group of diseases caused by infections transmitted through any sort of sexual contact. They include active symptoms and may occur after infection but don’t always have to.

Still not clear what the difference is? Let us put it this way. When an infective agent or pathogen enters the body through sexual acts — it may be a bacterium, a virus, or a fungus — it is classified as an STI. When the same pathogen stays alive inside the body and reproduces enough times to cause symptoms of disease, only then, it is termed an STD.

What Are Some Common Symptoms?

The symptoms of a sexually transmitted disease may include:

      Sore spots, bumps, rashes, or irritation inside or around the genitals, buttocks, anus and thighs.

      Changes in the smell, color, or amount of normal vaginal discharge.

      The occurrence of discharge from the penis.

      Non-menstrual bleeding, or spotting discharge from the vagina, especially during or after sex.

      Painful or burning urination.

      Unusual pain during vaginal or anal penetration.

      Pain in the pelvic region.

      Swelling and/or pain in the testicles.

      Swelling or pain in the lymph nodes present in the groin area and neck.

      Itching or tingling around the genitals.

      Rectal bleeding

      Vaginal, anal, or penile rash.


What are the Risk Factors for Catching an STI or STD?

You may be prone to getting sexually transmitted infections or diseases in certain situations more than in others. Some of these variables, known as risk factors, include:

      Having multiple sexual partners

      Having unprotected sex (without the use of condoms, etc.)

      Sharing needles or drug equipment

When does an STI become an STD?

Every pathogenic organism has an “incubation period”. This is the amount of time taken for the organism to multiply and grow inside the body to the extent where it can actually start causing symptoms. It is different for each pathogen and it may range from a few days to a few years from the time of exposure to the appearance of the first symptoms.

Do You Need to Get Screened for STIs?

Even though STIs most times resolve on their own without causing symptoms, it is important to get yourself screened regularly if you have any of the above risk factors or in the conditions below:

      If you’re thinking of adding more partners into your sex life.

      If you are pregnant.

      If you have been in sexual contact with someone who has a previously diagnosed STI or STD.

What Should You Do Next?

In case your screening results come back negative for sexually transmitted infections, you are safe and you may continue to enjoy carefree (but, protected!) sex with your partner(s).

If the screening tests show you to be positive for any sexually transmitted infection, you must first inform your partner(s), so they can also get tested and assure their good health.

Your doctor will create a plan to manage or treat your condition, depending on the diagnosis and prognosis. It may include antibiotics, over-the-skin creams, antiviral medications, etc. Doctors will also let you know about the necessary precautions you can take to recover as fast as possible and prevent reinfection. Contact Shifa4U online to order any medications you require.

In conclusion, the difference between saying STIs or STDs seems minimal, but with the decades of stigma attached to them, it is better to distinguish when a person is ‘sick’ or not.

Recommended Packages

Farah Jassawalla

Farah Jassawalla is a graduate of the Lahore School of Economics. She is also a writer, and healthcare enthusiast, having closely observed case studies while working with Lahore's thriving general physicians at their clinics.