STI’s and STD’s

So what is the difference between and STD and an STI?

A sexually transmitted disease (STD) is a disease that is primarily spread through sexual contact. The term STD is sometimes used interchangeably with sexually transmitted infection (STI). It can be confusing but put simply STD’s begin as STI’s.

There are more than 30 different bacteria, viruses and parasites known to be transmitted through sexual contact. Eight of these pathogens are linked to the greatest incidence of sexually transmitted disease. Of these, 4 are currently curable: syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia and trichomoniasis. The other 4 are viral infections which are incurable: hepatitis B, herpes simplex virus (HSV or herpes), HIV and human papillomavirus (HPV).

STIs are spread predominantly by sexual contact, including vaginal, anal and oral sex. Some STIs can also be transmitted from mother-to-child during pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding.
A person can have an STI without showing symptoms of disease. Common symptoms of STIs include vaginal discharge, urethral discharge or burning in men, genital ulcers and abdominal pain.

Infection vs Disease

STIs are infections caused by bacteria, viruses, or parasites. They are usually transmitted during sexual activity through an exchange of bodily fluids or skin-to-skin contact where the infection is active. Non-sexual activities in which bodily fluids are exchanged can also transmit STIs. For example, people who share needles can infect each other with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Some STIs can also be transmitted by kissing someone on the mouth, although this is considered to be low risk for most STIs.
STDs are diseases that result from STIs. All STDs start out as infections. Pathogens, which are disease-causing organisms such as viruses and bacteria, enter the body and begin multiplying. When these pathogens disrupt normal body functions, they produce diseases.

It's important to note that some STIs may never develop into diseases. For example, most human papillomavirus (HPV) cases go away on their own without causing health problems. However, HPV can produce genital warts or cervical cancer, which are diseases.

Most Common Types of STI’s and STD’s

  • Bacterial

    Chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis

  • Viral

    Hepatitis B virus, herpes simplex virus 2 (genital herpes), HIV, HPV

  • Parasitic


Symptoms to watch out for

Symptoms can take days, weeks, or even years to appear and some people may never experience any symptoms at all, which is why testing is important. Anyone who is sexually active should get tested regularly and know what symptoms to watch out for. Symptoms can vary between different STI’s and can develop on different parts of your body, depending where you may have had sexual contact.
  • bumps, sores, or rashes in or around the genitals, anus, buttocks, or thighs
  • changes in the amount of, color, or smell of vaginal discharge
  • penile discharge
  • unusual vaginal bleeding or spotting between periods or after sex
  • painful or burning urination
  • pain during vaginal or anal penetration
  • pelvic pain
  • painful or swollen testicles
  • tingling or itching around the genitals
  • swollen and painful lymph nodes, especially in the groin and neck
  • genital or anal rash
  • rectal bleeding

Get Tested

To get tested you can contact your pediatrician, primary care doctor, gynecologist or OB/GYN. There are also typically low or no cost clinics set up in your community as well. It may be scary to take that step of getting tested, but you need to know so you can get treatment as soon as possible and so you do not risk infecting anyone else. At Clearway Clinic, we offer free testing for two of the most common STI’s, Chlamydia and Gonorrhea as these two can cause complications if left untreated, particularly in regards to pregnancy or surgical abortions. If you are experiencing active symptoms we recommend you contact your doctor for further testing as it may be something other than what we test for and we do not want to delay your treatment or care.

Worcester Clinic

Springfield Clinic