STI vs. STD: Clarifying the Difference and Importance of Regular Testing – Approval

By Michael August 15, 2023
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Are you sexually active? If yes, it’s important to get tested for sexually transmitted diseases and infections, which are STDs and STIs. Most people get confused with these two terms and believe that they are the same. But the truth is that they are not the same.

STI means sexually transmitted infection, which is the initial contamination of a virus. While you may not experience symptoms or health risks immediately, STI passes on from one person to another. But the good news is that it can be treated if detected early.

So, if an STI shows any symptoms, it will be considered a disease; that’s where the difference begins. Actually, there is a reason why sexually transmitted infections came into the picture after years of calling them as STDs. It’s mainly to enhance accuracy and break the stigma tagged to STIs.

The term “disease” often suggests that an individual has underlying health problems, which become apparent through noticeable symptoms and signs. However, this isn’t always the situation with common sexually transmitted infections (STIs) like Gonorrhea and Chlamydia, as they frequently do not manifest any noticeable symptoms. This is why it’s important to distinguish between STIs and STDs. Let’s delve into the distinctions between the two.

Distinguishing Between STDs and STIs

The primary distinction between STDs and STIs lies in their progression. Essentially, STDs initially begin as STIs. While not all ailments originate from infections, when it comes to sexually transmitted diseases, they typically start as infections.

Infections occur when harmful microorganisms such as bacteria, parasites, or viruses enter the body. Once inside, these microorganisms begin to replicate. How they infiltrate the body can vary, with some pathogens being transmitted through skin contact with an infected person, while others require the exchange of bodily fluids like semen, vaginal secretions, blood, or other fluids. As the infection advances, symptoms and signs become noticeable.

However, it’s important to note that not all STIs inevitably progress into STDs. Some STIs remain in the infection stage and do not develop into diseases, especially if they are promptly treated.

For instance, take HPV (human papillomavirus), which is categorized as an STI. In some cases, individuals carrying HPV may not exhibit any symptoms. Yet, if this infection progresses into cervical cancer, it transforms into a sexually transmitted disease. Therefore, as long as the infection remains in the early stage and does not advance, it can be managed as an STI.

Most Common STDs And STIs


If you’re sexually active, you shouldn’t overlook the importance of STD tests. Gonorrhea is another common infection that might be contracted through oral, anal, or vagina sex with an infected individual. Also, it can be passed on to the baby during childbirth if the mother is infected.

Gonorrhea doesn’t show any symptoms, especially in women, but men might experience symptoms. Or if sometimes women experience symptoms, those are misinterpreted as the signs of a Urinary Tract Infection (UTI). Symptoms include:

  • An unusual discharge from the penis in a different color
  • Abnormalities in the menstrual cycle, along with spotting between periods
  • Increased vaginal discharge
  • Burning sensation when urinating


Chlamydia is one of the common infectious diseases that doesn’t show symptoms and signs. While both men and women are likely to get chlamydia, according to reports, a higher percentage of men experience symptoms than women. This is why it’s important for women to get tested. This infection is contracted through anal sex, vaginal sex, or oral sex. However, it’s developed in the 1-3 weeks since the transmission. Symptoms include:

  • Burning feeling in the penis and irritation when urinating
  • Odd discharge from the penis
  • Swelling and pain in testicles
  • Rectal discharge or pain
  • Inflamed eye
  • Pain during sex
  • Vaginal discharge
  • Bleeding between menstrual cycles

Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is the responsible virus for liver disease caused by a sexually transmitted disease. This is highly contagious and can be transmitted through the blood of the person who carries the virus. If you make contact with the person, then the chance for spread is high. Most people experience short-term Hepatitis B, which is acute because of the time period of 6 months. But for some, it goes beyond 6 months, which turns out chronic. When you have a chronic illness, it’ll increase the chances of liver cancer or liver failure.

People with acute hepatitis B experience mild to severe symptoms. Usually, symptoms will be visible in about 1-4 months after the infection. Some might experience it in 2 weeks. However, some people and children might not show any signs. Here are some common symptoms:

  • Jaundice, shown by yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes
  • Abdominal pain
  • Darkened urine
  • Fever
  • Joint pain
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Weakness and fatigue

Hepatitis C

Hepatitis C is a liver infection. It leads to liver damage, a lethal infection among the other Hepatitis viruses. It is often transmitted through drugs, paraphernalia, and needles. However, the risk rate increases if the contaminated person has used non-IV drugs or cocaine during sex. Most people aren’t aware of the few symptoms caused by this virus. While most people don’t experience symptoms, you will see signs between 2 weeks to 6 months after the transmission. Some of the symptoms are:

  • Clay-colored poop
  • Dark urine
  • Fever
  • Tiredness
  • Jaundice (yellow eyes and skin, as well as dark urine)
  • Joint pain
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Stomach pain
  • Vomiting


You must give special attention to Syphilis because it’s on the rise. This is commonly seen among men who have sexual relationships with other men. If you don’t get STD Treatment, then the health concerns might worsen over time. The bad news is that you won’t experience any problems for 10-30 years, which is why you should do yearly screening if you have an active sex life.

However, the only possible way of transmission is direct contact with the one who has syphilitic sores. They develop in or on the areas such as the penis, mouth, anus, and vagina. Babies have the risk of getting it if their mother is untreated.


This is another common STD and requires routine screenings for anyone who has an active sex life. It’s important to have an understanding of the disease so that you’ll know whether you’re a carrier of the virus or not. Knowing it will help you take care of your overall health and be safe from other types of STDs.

Top Reasons Why Everyone Should Get Tested For STIs and STDs

Whether it’s STD in Dubai or elsewhere, there’s one thing: you shouldn’t assume that you don’t have it just because you don’t experience any symptoms. If you have an active sex life, you should be vigilant to give priority to tests and treatments.

You may wonder why it is because most STIs and STDs are asymptomatic or won’t be obvious until it’s too late. This is why you should do regular screening. If you have multiple partners or a very active sex life, you should be extra careful and give more importance to tests. Here are some reasons to do it:

You should have control of your sex life

STD tests and screenings provide control of what’s happening in your sex life. When you do regular testing, you will know how to prioritize your sexual needs while staying safe. You will give importance to your health regardless of your sexual requirements because you know where your safety stands. Once you have the test results and overview of your sexual health, it’ll be easy to make informed decisions.

You’re still at risk even if you’re not showing signs

Most people overlook yearly screening and regular tests because they believe there would be symptoms if you have contracted any STIs. But that’s not true. If you’re symptoms-free, you’re asymptomatic, so you won’t experience any, which is why a test is needed. It’ll help you detect STIs, and by doing so, you can receive treatment at the early stage itself.

You can have safe sex if you openly discuss it with your partner/s

When you’re starting a relationship or if you have multiple partners, it’s best to come to terms with sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). If you have a sexual history that your partner needs to know, be sure to discuss it with them. It’s best to get tested for STDs and STIs before getting into relationships so that it gives the chance to practice safe sex.

Your definition of a virgin might not be the same for everyone

Some consider themselves a virgin only if they have not had vaginal intercourse. But for some others, virgin means who have had no intimate contact of any sort. So if you’re partner has never had vaginal sex, you shouldn’t be assured that they can’t be a carrier of an STI. As we said above, there are different ways of transmitting these viruses.

For example, oral herpes can be passed on to another person through casual affection, and the HSV-1 virus causes it.

If you have oral sex with someone with oral herpes, you might get genital herpes during the intercourse because it spreads. However, when you are diagnosed with infections, you’ll be required to do laboratory tests to see what caused the infection.

You can get treated if you are diagnosed early

It’s not easy to get tested, but without getting tested, you wouldn’t know whether you have an STI. What if you lost the chance of getting treated just because you didn’t get yourself tested?

You might develop serious health conditions if STIs are left untreated

If you don’t get tested and identify STIs in their early stages, things might worsen, and you might experience serious health conditions. This is a possible case even when there are no symptoms. For example, some men might not experience any symptoms when infected with Gonorrhea, and this might lead to serious conditions like urethral stricture.

Who Should Get Tested For STIs?

  • When someone is starting a new physical relationship.
  • Testing for STIs is advisable after engaging in sexual activity.
  • In cases of multiple partners or when a partner has several partners.
  • When a couple is contemplating not using condoms or other barrier birth control methods.
  • If you suspect infidelity in your relationship and experience symptoms that could suggest an STI.

When Should You Get Treated For STI and STD?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises screening tests for STIs and STDs every year, mainly if you are a sexually active adult. However, the general idea is to get tested if:

  • If you are planning on sexual activity with a new partner.
  • If you have multiple sexual partners.
  • If you are concerned about potential exposure to an STI or STD.
  • If you are currently pregnant.
  • If you share injection drug equipment.

But once you get tested, you shouldn’t jump to conclusions because it’s too soon to tell from who you got exposed to STI. For example, there’s an incubation period for STI, from contraction to recognition to the production of antibodies. So, the incubation period differs from one infection to another.

However, if you think you have been exposed to infections, you don’t have to think twice to talk to healthcare providers or urologists. Based on your case, they will advise you on what to do next. For example, they might recommend a test or suggest preventive measures based on the infection.


As we have explained above, STIs and STDs are different. Even though both terms have different meanings, the way one is interrelated to the other is why people often confuse it. However, whether you have never had vaginal sex or experienced any symptoms mentioned above, it’s best to consider STI treatment because you should always play safe with your health.

Similarly, you should never overlook an STD test because most diseases are asymptomatic, so your best bet is to get tested. Everyone should know the differences between STIs and STDs and the importance of tests and treatments. Knowing them will help you diagnose the disease and get treated early, so you don’t have to worry about passing it on to someone or risking your life to infections or diseases.

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Reclaim your vitality and confidence with our trusted men’s health clinic in Dubai. Our experienced medical team provides comprehensive examinations, diagnostic testing, and advanced treatments for sexual health disorders, hormonal imbalances, and prostate problems. We have great amenities and welcoming staff who will ensure your comfort during your visit, so that you can receive the right diagnosis and treatment. Now is the time to take responsibility of your reproductive health and make an appointment with our premier clinic.

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