Sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
Lymphogranuloma venereum (LGV)
What is it?
Lymphogranuloma venereum is a curable sexually transmitted infection caused by certain types of chlamydia bacteria. These chlamydia bacteria are different from those which cause genital chlamydia.
In the UK, LGV is mostly found in men who have sex with men, especially if they are HIV positive. LGV is a common heterosexual sexually transmitted infection in other parts of the world, such as African and South Asian countries.
How do I catch it?
LGV is transmitted through anal, vaginal or oral sex, and possibly through the use of sex toys if they are not washed or if a new condom is not used on the toy for each sexual partner.
The risk of catching LGV may be increased by using recreational drugs or having high-risk sex, such as group sex.
The symptoms of LGV can start a few days to a month after coming into contact with the infection. You may notice:
- small painless ulcers on the genitals or around the anus
- swelling and redness of the skin in the groin area
- swollen groin lymph nodes (glands) on one or both sides. It may also affect lymph nodes around the rectum in those who have anal intercourse
- drainage through the skin from lymph nodes in groin
- blood or pus from the rectum, or blood in your poo
- painful bowel movements, or a feeling of incomplete emptying after opening your bowels
- diarrhoea and lower abdominal pain
Women may develop swelling of the labia (lips of the vulva) or abnormal connections, called fistulas, between the vagina and rectum.
Tests for lymphogranuloma venereum can include blood tests, urine samples or swabs from infected areas.
All Umbrella clinics offer free STI testing.
Lymphogranuloma venereum is treated with a course of antibiotics, usually for three weeks. If you are treated for LGV, it’s essential that your sexual partners are also treated before you have sex again.
All Umbrella clinics provide free treatment for sexually transmitted infections. To find clinics, and to see which services they offer, please see the service locator.
Detailed information on STIs is available on the NHS website.
See the FPA website for a range of downloadable leaflets on sexually transmitted infections.
The British Association for Sexual Health and HIV (BASHH) website also features a range of downloadable leaflets on STIs.