Lymphogranuloma Venereum (LGV)

Lymphogranuloma venereum (LGV), is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by bacteria which are part of chlamydia family. They are transmitted just like standard chlamydia and can affect the genitals, anus, rectum, throat, but they spread to the lymph glands and cause different symptoms. Ove the last few decades, LGV is being diagnosed mainly in gay and bisexual men especially if they are HIV positive. It much less common in heterosexuals in the UK.

How do I get it?

You can get LGV from unprotected anal, vaginal or oral sex with someone who has it. There is a higher risk of catching it if you have sex involving recreational drugs, sex parties and/or fisting (hand is put into a partner's rectum) increases the risk of being infected. Having LGV could make it easier for you to get or pass on HIV. The bacteria can be passed from one rectum to another via sex toys, fingers, condoms or latex gloves. You can’t get LGV by kissing, sharing towels, from swimming pools, hot tubs or toilet seats.

What might I notice if I have it (Symptoms)?

LGV sometimes has no symptoms. If symptoms show up, they can be 3-30 days after you were exposed to it.
Most LGV infections in the UK are in the male rectum and symptoms include:

  • pain when passing stool (having a poo)
  • pain during receptive anal sex (being bottom)
  • blood or mucus coming from anus
  • sores around the anus
  • constipation or have loose stool
  • a feeling that there is stool in the rectum that just won’t empty completely

LGV in the penis can cause an ulcer (a break in the skin), discharge and/or pain on passing urine, along with swollen gland in the groin.

How do I get tested?

LGV is not a routine test as part of sexual health screen. If you swab tests come back negative for chlamydia, then LGV is ruled out. If it comes back positive for chlamydia and your doctor suspects LGV, they can get that test sent to another laboratory to test for LGV. This might mean having to return to the clinic for an extra swab to be taken. The LGV test result can take up a few weeks to come back. If your symptoms suggest LGV infection, your clinic may advise that you start LGV in the meantime while the result is awaited.

What is the treatment?

LGV is treated with a course of antibiotics by mouth, usually for a few weeks. Also advice on having no sex while on treatment and to contact any partners to get them tested and treated (especially before you resume sex with them).