Lymphogranuloma venereum (LGV)

What is it?

Lymphogranuloma venereum is a 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 or vaginal 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.

Symptoms

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
  • 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.

Testing

Tests for lymphogranuloma venereum can include blood tests, urine samples or swabs from infected areas.

Treatment

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 partner is also treated before you have sex again.

All Umbrella clinics provide treatment for sexually transmitted infections. To find clinics, and to see which services they offer, please see the service locator.

Find clinics and pharmacies

Worried about LGV?

How to avoid STIs

See the FPA website for a range of downloadable leaflets on contraception and sexually transmitted infections.

View FPA leaflets

The British Association for Sexual Health and HIV (BASHH) website also features a range of downloadable leaflets on STIs.

View BASHH leaflets