Lymphogranuloma venereum (LGV)

Lymphogranuloma venereum (LGV) is a sexually transmitted infection. It’s caused by a strain of chlamydia bacteria.

LGV is rare in Scotland and is mostly found in men who have sex with men. LGV in women is very rare.

Symptoms of LGV

Most people with LGV don’t notice any symptoms and don’t know they have it. So it’s important to get tested if you think you’re infected.

If you do develop symptoms, you may experience:

  • swollen lymph glands in the groin (in one or both sides)
  • an ulcer or sore on the penis, vagina or around the anus

You may notice some anal symptoms such as:

  • blood or pus from the anus on underwear or toilet paper
  • pain in the anal area when pooing or having receptive anal sex
  • constipation, painful straining or diarrhoea when trying to poo
  • a feeling of incomplete emptying after pooing

Testing for LGV

If you think you might have LGV, get tested for free by:

What does the LGV test involve?

If you test positive for chlamydia, and your symptoms suggest that you might have LGV, the lab will do a further test for LGV.

The test for LGV is simple, painless and very reliable. It involves sending a sample from the area of the body thought to be infected to a lab for analysis. This can take up to 3 weeks.

The 2 main ways the sample can be collected are:

  • using a swab – a small cotton bud is gently wiped over the area that might be infected, such as inside the vagina, throat, or inside the anus
  • urine sample – this should ideally be done at least 1 or 2 hours after you last peed

Your partner (s) for the past 3 months should also be tested for LGV.

Treatment for LGV

Antibiotics will treat the LGV infection.

The result of the LGV test can take 3 weeks to come back, so your doctor may advise you to start treatment before the final result is available.

If left untreated, LGV can cause scarring and swelling of the skin. It can also cause permanent swelling of the genitals. Rectal infection can also cause swelling and scarring resulting in the risk of long-term bowel complications. Rarely the infection may spread via the bloodstream causing inflammation of the joints or liver.

To avoid passing LGV on to your partner(s) you should avoid having sex until both you and your partner have finished your treatment.

How LGV is passed on

You can get LGV by having unprotected vaginal, anal or oral sex (sex without a condom).

Your risk of getting LGV may be increased by:

  • chemsex
  • having group sex
  • fisting
  • sharing sex toys that aren’t washed or covered with a new condom each time they’re used

How to prevent LGV

The best way to reduce your risk of STIs is to practice safer sex. This means using a condom for vaginal, anal and oral sex.

Other STIs

If you have been diagnosed with LGV you should get tested for all STIs including:

Last updated:
26 February 2024

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