Lymphogranuloma Venereum (LGV) (also known as Durand-Nicolas-Favre disease and climatic bubo) is a type of chlamydia that attacks the lymph nodes and usually affects men who have sex with men.
Found mainly in the rectum (back passage) and occasionally the penis, it is passed to men via anal sex, oral sex, fisting without gloves and sharing sex toys. Women can be infected via the vagina, mouth and throat but it is less common.
The back passage becomes inflamed and painful and you may have constipation or diarrhoea with visible blood and pus, which can be misdiagnosed as irritable bowel syndrome. If the penis is infected, there may be discharge and pain when peeing. In both men and women, swollen glands may appear in the arm, groin or neck with blisters on the mouth. Women may have blisters near their genitals and experience a vaginal discharge but often symptoms only appear in women when LGV is at a later stage (see complications).
As LGV is a strain of chlamydia, it is detected in the same way as chlamydia, with a swab of the back passage or penis for men and vagina or cervix in women. You can test yourself discreetly and easily with our chlamydia self-collection kit. If you test positive for chlamydia and believe you may have LGV, contact your GP or local GUM clinic so your sample can be examined further. Test yourself once a year if in a stable relationship or two weeks after intercourse with a new partner.
Antibiotics will clear the infection and partners must also take a course even if they don't test positive.
Left untreated, there may be lasting damage and surgery may be required. Severe scarring can cause narrowing of the back passage and deformed genitals and women can develop an opening between the vagina and anus (fistula). In very rare cases, LGV can cause inflammation of the brain.
Between 2003 and 2016, there were 5,302 diagnoses of LGV in Britain and 99.7% of these were in men. It was mainly confined to men who have sex with men and was prevalent in London with outbreaks in Brighton and Manchester. The average age was 37 and three quarters of those diagnosed with LGV were HIV positive and almost half (45%) had another STI.
You can reduce the risk of becoming infected with Lymphogranuloma Venereum and spreading the infection. How? Here are five simple ways to prevent you getting LGV.
Use a condom - Protecting yourself during all sexual activity (vaginal, anal and oral) can reduce the risk of getting infected with LGV. Use a male latex condom or a female polyurethane condom during sexual contact.
Be aware - Make sure that you get checked regularly for STIs, especially if you're under the age of 25 as this is the group most at risk. In a few seconds you can order your chlamydia self-collecting test online. If you test positive for chlamydia and believe you may have LGV, contact your GP or local GUM clinic so your sample can be examined further.
Limit your number of sex partners - Changing sex partners puts you at a high risk of becoming infected with Lymphogranuloma Venereum or any other sexually transmitted infections. If you do change partners, get tested every single time, even if the person you're with assures you they don't have it. It's largely symptomless so they might not even know they're infected.
Talk to your partner - A simple conversation before beginning a sexual relationship can help. Take your time and find out whether he or she is at risk of having LGV. Talk to your partner about the risk factors, the benefits of regular screening, signs to look out for and the need to use condoms, even when you're not having penetrative sex. Sexually transmitted infections are more common when ignorance is higher so it pays to have some knowledge and share it with others.
Get tested regularly - If you are in stable relationship it is recommended to do a test at least once a year. If you have multiple sexual partners you should do it every three months. Here at raTrust we can offer you various types of STI tests. You will be able to do your chlamydia test at home at a time and in an environment which is convenient for you. The whole process is very quick, discreet and you could know your results in just 4 hours (high priority option) or 24 hours (standard option).
Last updated April 17, 2018