STI vs STD: Understanding the Difference

Sexually Transmitted Infection


STI vs STD: Understanding the Difference


STI stands for Sexually Transmitted Infection, while STD stands for Sexually Transmitted Disease. However, what is the difference between STI vs STD?

STI is the most up-to-date term. Healthcare providers changed it to “infection” instead of calling it a “disease” to be less stigmatizing for patients. 

STI is an infection caused by bacteria, viruses, or other organisms transmitted through sexual contact. Not all infections cause noticeable symptoms, so “infection” is more encompassing.

STD is a disease that is spread through sexual contact and causes symptoms. It implies that the infection has progressed to a point where it is causing noticeable health problems.

It is important to get regular testing even without symptoms for STI.

Both terms are used in the context of sexual health and emphasize the importance of prevention, testing, and treatment.

How to Know if you Suffer from STI or STD?

It is best to speak with a healthcare professional to learn about STIs and STDs.  A doctor will offer reliable information about the condition and request that you take STI tests when needed.

When individuals contract STIs or suspect exposure to an STI, feelings of anxiety and fear often arise. 

Fortunately, healthcare providers can lessen these feelings of anxiety by providing the correct information.

If you feel discomfort or want to avoid waiting, you can schedule a telehealth appointment and speak with a doctor online.

What are the Types of STIs and STDs?

Different categories of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) include:

Bacterial infections: Chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis

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

Parasitic infections: Trichomoniasis

What are the Symptoms of STIs and STDs?

Common inquiries from individuals dealing with STIs often revolve around symptoms. 

The symptoms linked to STDs can vary based on the specific infection. 

Some may appear days, weeks, or even years after exposure, and it’s important to note that not everyone exhibits symptoms. 

When symptoms arise, the STI has progressed to a disease stage.

Typical symptoms experienced by those with an STI may include:

  • Unusual discharge from the penis or vagina
  • Genital or anal sores or warts
  • Itching or redness around the affected areas
  • Sores in or around the mouth
  • Pain or burning sensation during urination
  • Abnormal vaginal odor

If an STI progresses to become an STD, symptoms may differ. Some resemble those mentioned above, while others could be distinct and possibly more severe. These symptoms may include:

  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Memory loss
  • Nausea
  • Changes in hearing or vision
  • Weight loss

It’s not uncommon for individuals to confuse the symptoms of an STD with those of a urinary tract infection or yeast infection.

 If there’s uncertainty regarding the cause of the symptoms, seeking guidance from a medical professional is advisable.

What are the STI Tests Required?

Determining the type of STI present typically involves a series of tests conducted by healthcare providers. 

These STI testing may include:

  • Physical examination: A thorough examination, often involving a pelvic exam, to detect signs of infection.
  • Blood tests: To diagnose certain infections, like syphilis or HIV, a blood sample is collected through either a blood draw or a finger prick.
  • Urine tests: Testing urine samples for gonorrhea and chlamydia.
  • Fluid samples: Examining fluid samples from the vagina or penis under a microscope to detect organisms such as the parasite responsible for trichomoniasis.
  • Swab tests: Collecting samples from the infection site using a specialized swab. Swab tests are utilized for diagnosing HPV, chlamydia, gonorrhea, and herpes.


Understanding the difference between STI vs STD is crucial for promoting sexual health. 

While STI refers to infections without noticeable symptoms, STD indicates the progression of the infection to a disease stage. 

Regular testing, seeking guidance from healthcare professionals for STI treatment, and prioritizing prevention are essential for managing both.

If you require guidance or wish to know more, complete a questionnaire and receive a virtual consultation with a doctor.


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