Your 13 Most-Googled STI Qs, Answered

Originally Published April 29, 2020 on Healthy Sex | By Gabrielle Kassel

If there’s anything you’ve Googled more than “how to cook chicken breast” and “lesbian sex” (just me??), money says it’s “do I have an STI?” or some other question about these hard-to-understand infections.

That’s why we put together this handy sexual health guide.

From how to reduce your risk of STI transmission to how long you need to wait before getting tested after possible exposure, scroll down for the answers to the STI questions we know you’ve been Googling.

What’s the difference between an STI and an STD?

If you were lucky enough to have some semblance of sex education — did you know only 30 of the 50 United States mandate it? Atrocious! — chances are your instructor called things like gonorrhea and herpes “sexually transmitted diseases,” or STDs for short.

But somewhere between then and now, the acronym got a makeover.

Now, it seems like everyone is calling them sexually transmitted infections, or STIs.

So what’s the difference? Well, according to Planned Parenthood, infections are only called diseases when they cause symptoms, which only 30 percentTrusted Source of some STIs do!

  • sexually transmitted infections = infections caused by sexual contact that are asymptomatic
  • sexually transmitted diseases = infections caused by sexual contact that are symptomatic

“If a vulva owner has HPV but is currently carrying no symptoms, that’s an STI. But in the case [they] begin to develop symptoms, that would now be called an STD,” explains Dr. Earim Chaudry, MRCGP, general practitioner and medical director at men’s wellness platform Manual.

“These terms are still used synonymously in most places,” says Dr. Kristy Goodman, OB-GYN and co-founder and CEO of PreConception. “And some organizations like the CDC have simply stuck with calling them STDs.”

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