Ask a VWC Nurse: Answers to Your Commonly Asked Questions
Once a month, we feature answers to commonly asked questions that our Valley Women’s Clinic medical staff receives. Our nurses provide answers to these questions here on the blog.
Q. Is There a Difference Between STDs and STIs?
There is often some confusion about these two terms. Here’s a little more information.
A. Yes. The difference is small but there is one.
Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs)
STDs, or sexually transmitted diseases, are a set of infections that are transmitted through sexual contact (vaginal, oral or anal) from one person to another. Many people who get an STD don’t have symptoms so they are considered infected, but they are not considered to have the disease. Because they don’t have symptoms, they can easily pass it to another person without knowing it.
Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)
Medical professionals developed the term STI, or sexually transmitted infection, to describe the person who has been infected but hasn’t developed any symptoms. They also wanted to make it known that all STIs turn into disease. Another reason this term is used is because STD has an unpleasant tone to it so there can be a stigma associated with it. Medical professionals believe using the term STI instead may encourage more people to get tested and treated.
So although there is a difference in the two terms, they are essentially the same thing and the terms can be used interchangeably. With both an STD and an STI, you have a sexually transmitted infection. With the most common ones, chlamydia and gonorrhea, you may not experience any symptoms. This is why it’s so important to be tested.
Free STI Testing at Valley Women’s Clinic
Valley Women’s Clinic offers testing for chlamydia and gonorrhea free of charge. If you think you could possibly have one of these STIs, or would just like to be sure you don’t, we are here for you. Request an appointment for our Blacksburg or Radford clinics or call either of our offices to schedule.
And if you are concerned about a potential pregnancy as well, we also provide free lab-quality pregnancy tests that are accurate for most women as soon as 10 days after conception. We can test for STIs and pregnancy at the same appointment. All of our services are free and confidential.
Do you have a question for one of our VWC nurses? Fill out the form below to anonymously ask your question and it could be featured on one of our future Ask a VWC Nurse blog posts!