STI: Lymphogranuloma Venereum (LGV)

This bacterial STI is related to chlamydia
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Lympogranuloma venereum (or LGV) is a bacterial STI related to chlamydia. It is most common among gay and bisexual men and men who have sex with men. It is easily treatable.

How LGV is transmitted

You can get LGV by having unprotected oral, anal, or vaginal sex with an infected person, as well as engaging in other sex acts like fisting or using sex toys.

Symptoms of LGV

The first symptoms are often painless blisters or sores on the penis, rectum, or labia. (These are easy to miss, so it’s important to get an STI checkup often, as even at this early stage you can pass LGV on to your partner.)

Those first symptoms are often followed by:

  • Painful inflammation of the rectum
  • Rectal discharge or bleeding
  • Swelling in the groin or of the penis or labia
  • Discomfort during urination and bowel movements (or diarrhea, constipation, or feeling like you have to go to the toilet all the time)
  • Sore throat or swelling of glands

Treatment for LGV

Get tested and treated, and make sure your partner is, too, to prevent reinfection. If you can you should get treated at the same time.

A correct diagnosis is easily treatable with a full course of antibiotics, which a doctor can prescribe.

What happens if LGV goes untreated?

  • You risk passing LGV on to your sex partner
  • If left for too long, LGV can cause lymph node infections
  • Scarring of the genitals or anus could also occur, resulting in deformation which, in severe cases, could require surgery

How to avoid transmission of LGV

  • As always, use condoms and/or dental dams for any sexual act
  • Use latex gloves for fingering and fisting
  • Try to avoid sharing sex toys; if you do, be sure they’re thoroughly cleaned between each use
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