What Is a Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI)?

Sometimes referred to as a sexually transmitted disease (STD), an STI is just what it sounds like: an infection that is transmitted from one person to another via sexual activity.

sexually transmitted disease


Common Types of Sexually Transmitted Infections and Their Symptoms

Initially, gonorrhea may not cause any noticeable symptoms. Issues may begin roughly two to five days after sexual contact with the infected individual, but can also take up to a month to appear. Initial symptoms are somewhat mild, taking forms like painful urination, itching around the anus and vagina, unusual discharge, unexpected bleeding, abdominal pain, and/or pain during sex.¹

Early diagnosis is key for syphilis, as it occurs in four increasingly damaging stages:²

  1. During the highly contagious first stage, a painless sore appears on the vulva or in the vagina. After a few weeks, this sore heals on its own (but you can still transmit syphilis to others).
  2. The second stage appears as a rash across the body, usually also covering the palms and bottoms of the feet.
  3. In the “latent” stage, a person left untreated for over a year can have no symptoms for a very long time. During this stage, a blood test must be done to confirm the diagnosis.
  4. The last stage of syphilis is incredibly dangerous, causing problems with the heart, brain, and nervous system. Sometimes, this “late” stage can even lead to death.

Herpes is an extremely common STI that often does not produce noticeable symptoms. When symptoms do arise, they manifest as painful sores, genital itching, painful urination, pressure in the abdomen, symptoms reminiscent of the flu, etc. These “outbreaks” tend to cycle in and out, usually getting milder and shorter in duration over time. Herpes can be difficult to diagnose or identify the source of, as a person may not experience their first outbreak for years after the initial sexual contact.³

One of the most common STIs, chlamydia is unfortunately somewhat “invisible.” Nearly three-quarters of women who have chlamydia exhibit no recognizable symptoms. When they do appear, however, they present as unusual discharge, period pain, pain during intercourse, itching around the vagina, and/or painful urination. These symptoms usually begin a few weeks after the initial infection.4

Sometimes nicknamed “Hep B,” this very serious STI targets your liver and can be dangerous (even life-threatening) if left untreated. Symptoms of hepatitis B may not begin until a few months after initial contact. When they do, you may notice yellowing of the skin (jaundice), pale-colored feces, chronic fatigue, stomach pain, digestive problems, and/or fever. Hep B can only be diagnosed via a blood test but can be successfully treated and managed if it’s discovered.5

Symptoms appearabout 3 months or more after infection and include small, hard, painless bumps that may develop tops like cauliflowers, inside or around vagina, penis, or anus, or in the mouth. Removal treatments include surface medications, freezing or laser but THERE IS NO CURE and the warts may come back. They can make delivery difficult during pregnancy and have been linked to genital cancers.

Symptoms appearabout 1-2 weeks or more after infection and include discharge from the vagina, itching swelling or redness in vagina, pain during sex, burning while urinating. Men rarely have symptoms but can infect others. Though it is cured with antibiotics problems during pregnancy, including premature breaking of waters, premature delivery and passing the infection to newborn during birth may occur.

How Can I Find Confidential STI Treatment at a Women’s Health Clinic Near Me?

If you think you may be exhibiting symptoms of an STI, it’s time to visit a professional women’s health clinic for diagnosis and treatment. With a convenient location in the Jamaica neighborhood of Queens, Choices Women’s Medical Center offers compassionate, confidential STI treatment and healthcare for women from all walks of life.

healthcare for women

To learn more about our services or make an appointment, call us today at (718) 786-5000.


  1. https://www.webmd.com/sexual-conditions/tc/gonorrhea-symptoms
  2. https://www.webmd.com/sexual-conditions/tc/syphilis-symptoms
  3. https://www.publichealth.va.gov/infectiondontpassiton/womens-health-guide/stds/genital-herpes.asp
  4. https://www.webmd.com/sexual-conditions/guide/chlamydia#1
  5. https://www.webmd.com/hepatitis/digestive-diseases-hepatitis-b#2