To understand if you are at risk for an STI or an STD, you first need to understand what each of these initials mean.
STI stands for Sexually Transmitted Infection- You can become infected with an STI through any type of sexual activity but this infection hasn’t developed into a disease.
STD stands for Sexually Transmitted Disease – The infection has now developed into a disease.
So, all STD’s start as a STI. An infection is often the forerunner of a disease and occurs when either bacteria or viruses enter the body and start multiplying.
Here are some facts about STIs and STDs:
- The terms STIs and STDs are sometimes used interchangeably. For our understanding in this blog, the term STD will be used.
- STDs may be treatable if caught early, but many times the symptoms are not obvious or are very mild. Seeing a doctor to get tested is the best way for detection.
- Some general symptoms can include unusual discharge from the vagina or penis; a burning feeling when urinating; growths, sores or itching in the genital area; lower abdominal pain; dark urine; skin rashes or sores; yellow eyes; fever; headache; nausea; joint inflammation and enlarged lymph nodes.
- There are more than 25 major STDs with several not having a cure.
- Over 65 million Americans are now infected with an incurable STD. Each year 19 million become infected with STDs. Almost 4 million of these are teenagers.
- Bacterial STDs such as Gonorrhea, Syphilis, and Chlamydia can usually be treated with antibiotics. Even if you are treated for them, some damage caused before treatment may be permanent.
- Viral STDs such as Herpes, HIV/AIDS and Human Papillomavirus (HPV) are considered incurable, but can be treated, so it is important to seek treatment immediately.
- STDs can lead to: Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID), which can lead to infertility, Cervical cancer, chronic pelvic pain, tubal (ectopic) pregnancy, damage to major body organ, death.
Answers to some very important questions:
~ Can using a condom prevent an STD? Even if condoms are used consistently and correctly every time you have sex, it still puts you at risk for many STDs. To sum it up, condoms can REDUCE the STD risk but not totally prevent it.
~ But I am only having sex with one person, can I still get an STD? If your partner has had sex with anyone else before you, then you are at risk.
~ Is oral sex safe? No, definitely not. Syphilis, Gonorrhea, and Genital Herpes can be spread through oral sex.
~ I am on birth control pills. Does this protect me from STDs? No.
~ How can I protect myself from STDs? There are only two ways to totally protect yourself from STDs. One is to abstain from sex (abstinence). The other is to only have sex within a faithful lifelong commitment (marriage) to a partner who is STD free.
When you have sex with someone, you are having sex with everyone they have had sex with for the last 10 years, and everyone they and their partners have had sex with for the last 10 years.
See the chart below to get a visual understanding of this fact.
Information taken from:
American Social Health Organization Sexually Transmitted Diseases in America
Centers for Disease control, Division of Sexually Transmitted Diseases
For more information: