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Lymphogranuloma venereum (LGV)

Lymphogranuloma venereum is a sexually transmitted infection caused by certain types of chlamydia bacteria. It is transmitted through anal or vaginal sex, and possibly through the use of sex toys if they are not washed. LGV is treated with a course of antibiotics, usually for three weeks.

What is it?

LGV is a sexually transmitted infection caused by certain types of chlamydia bacteria, although they are different from the one which causes genital chlamydia. It is mostly found in men who have sex with men in the UK, especially if they are HIV positive. In other parts of the world such as African and South Asian countries, LGV is a common sexually transmitted infection.

How do I catch it?

LGV can be transmitted through anal and vaginal sex. It can also be spread by sex toys if they are not washed or if a new condom is not used for each new partner.

What symptoms could I have?

The symptoms of LGV can start a few days to a month after catching the infection. You might notice:

  • Swelling and redness of the skin in the groin area.
  • A small painless ulcer on the genitals or around the anus.
  • Blood or pus from the rectum (blood in the motion).
  • Diarrhoea and lower abdominal pain.
  • Swollen groin lymph nodes (glands) on one or both sides. It might also affect the lymph nodes around the rectum in those who have anal intercourse.
  • Drainage through the skin from lymph nodes in groin.
  • Women may develop swelling of the labia (lips of the vulva) or abnormal connections called fistulas, between the vagina and rectum.
  • Painful bowel movements.
How do you test for it?

You can use the service finder to find a testing service near you.

How do you treat it?

LGV is treated with a course of antibiotics, usually for three weeks. If you are treated for LGV, it is really important that your partner is also treated before you have sex again to prevent reinfection.

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