Lymphogranuloma Venereum (LGV)
What is it?
Lymphogranuloma venereum (LGV), is a curable sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by a bacterium from the chlamydia family. These chlamydia bacteria are different from those which cause genital chlamydia. LGV can infect the genitals, anus, rectum, throat or lymph glands. LGV is increasingly being diagnosed in gay and bisexual men especially if they are HIV positive, but is rare in heterosexual men and women in the UK.
How do I get it?
It is caught from unprotected anal, vaginal or oral sex with someone who has LGV. Using recreational drugs and having high-risk sex such as group sex and/or fisting (hand is inserted 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 also be passed from one rectum to another via objects such as sex toys, fingers, condoms or latex gloves. You cannot get LGV by kissing, sharing towels, nor from swimming pools saunas or toilet seats.
Signs and Symptoms
LGV can cause no symptoms, but it commonly causes symptoms, which usually appear 3-30 days after becoming infected.
Most UK LGV infections are found in the male rectum where symptoms include:
- a discharge of mucus and/or blood from the anus/rectum
- ulcers or cuts around the anus
- pain when they pass a motion or have passive (receptive) anal sex (proctitis)
- constipation or have loose motions or a feeling that they have not completely emptied their bowels after passing a motion
- LGV in the penis might cause an ulcer, discharge and/or pain on passing urine.
- Lymph glands in the groin are likely to be swollen.
- LGV in the mouth or throat is rare but it can cause ulcers, sore throat and swollen glands in the neck.
- In some cases LGV causes a fever (high temperature), fatigue and abdominal pain.
LGV is not routinely tested for, but if your rectal swab comes back positive for chlamydia a further test for LGV will be requested to confirm what type of chlamydia you have and whether you have LGV. This may mean having further tests in the clinic. The result for LGV test can take up to three weeks to come back, your clinic doctor may advise you to start treatment for LGV before the final result is available, based on their clinical assessment of you.
LGV is usually treated with an antibiotics.