An affiliate of Hera Women's Health

STIs Versus STDs: How Are They Different?

STIs Versus STDs: How Are They Different?

If you’ve ever discussed conditions that are sexually transmitted with a medical professional, you’ve probably heard the terms sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). These labels are often used interchangeably, but did you know they don’t actually have the same meaning?

Although there are differences between STIs and STDs, both are medical conditions that might need medical care to treat or manage. 

Our OB/GYNs at Women's Health Associates of Southern Nevada, Northwest in Las Vegas, Nevada, Anita Gondy, MD, Saovaros V. Michaels, MD, and Henry Luh, DO, explain the differences between STIs and STDs and the type of care you might need.

Commonalities between STIs and STDs

STIs and STDs both describe types of conditions that are contracted sexually. This means you can get these conditions if you have any type of contact with your sexual partner’s genitals.

There are a number of conditions you can contract sexually. These include:

You can reduce your risk of developing STIs and STDs by ensuring you and your partners are screened regularly and using barrier methods, such as condoms and dental dams, during sexual activity.

The differences between STIs and STDs

STIs and STDs represent different stages of conditions that are sexually transmitted. The term STI describes the initial stages of infection when you contract a condition. STIs become STDs when they start showing symptoms.

Not every STI develops into an STD. For example, there are some STIs that can be asymptomatic and never show symptoms in some people who contract them, and in a few instances, such as some HPV infections, the infection goes away completely without ever being diagnosed.

That said, in most cases, it’s just as important for an STI to be diagnosed and treated or managed, to help prevent it from turning into an STD or causing you to inadvertently pass the STI on to your partner. 

For this reason, our clinicians at WHASN - NW recommend getting regular STI screenings even if you don’t have any symptoms, unless you’re in a monogamous relationship where you’ve both been tested after becoming monogamous.

Diagnosing and treating STIs and STDs

Our medical team offers STI and STD screenings. Getting tested is noninvasive and will either give you peace of mind or a plan for how to treat or best manage your condition.

In some instances, you should get tested for STIs even if you don’t have symptoms. These times include:

Additionally, make an appointment with our providers for screening if you have any symptoms that show you might have an STD. Symptoms can include open sores or bumps in your genital or anal areas, vaginal or penile discharge, abnormal vaginal bleeding, pain when urinating, and otherwise unexplained fever.

Treatment for STIs and STDs depends on your diagnosis. Some conditions can be treated with antibiotics, while others can be managed with antiviral medications.

If you’re concerned you might have an STI or STD or haven’t been tested recently, contact our team at WHASN - NW for skilled, compassionate screening and care. Call our office or request an appointment online today.

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