Health conditions

Lymphogranuloma venereum (LGV)

What is LGV?

Lymphogranuloma venereum, or LGV, is a sexually transmissible infection (STI). The bacteria that cause LGV are rare types of Chlamydia. LGV is more infectious than types of genital chlamydia infection.

Terms explained

Sexually transmissible infection (STI) – any infection or disease that can be passed from one person to another during sexual activity.

How do I get LGV?

LGV is spread through unprotected vaginal, anal or oral sex, especially is there is trauma to the skin or mucous membranes. It can also be spread by sharing sex toys.

Signs and symptoms

Around 3 to 30 days after exposure, a small painless lump or sore appears on or in the penis, rectum, vagina, cervix or mouth. This heals after a few days and most people are not aware of it.

Over the next 2 to 6 weeks, the infection spreads to the local lymph glands usually in the groin or inside the pelvis. People may also have:

  • fever
  • chills
  • weight loss
  • sore muscles and joints
  • a feeling of being generally unwell.

Where the infection is in the rectum, there can be:

  • a discharge of blood, pus or mucus from the anus
  • a painful urgent feeling of needing to pass a bowel motion (poo) but being unable to do so
  • diarrhoea or constipation
  • stomach pain.

In the final stages, the infection can cause widespread scarring and deformity in the affected area.

In rare cases, LGV can infect the brain and the liver.

How do I know I have LGV?

If you have signs and/or symptoms of LGV, see your doctor for a swab of the lump or discharge. LGV often occurs with other sexually transmissible infections including syphilis, hepatitis C and HIV so it is important to also be tested for these.

See your doctor as soon as possible if you think you may have LGV.

Treatment of LGV

Antibiotics can successfully treat the LGV infection. People with LGV should not have sex until the full course of antibiotic treatment has been completed.

Painful swollen lymph nodes may need to be drained using a needle. Sometimes surgery is required in later stages of the disease. Other infections that often occur with LGV (such as HIV, syphilis, other STIs and hepatitis C) should also be treated if they are diagnosed.

How can LGV be prevented?

You can reduce the risks of getting LGV and other STIs by following this advice:

  • have regular STI tests
  • always use condoms and/ or dams and water-based lube when having sex
  • talk to your sexual partners about sexual health.

Where to get help

  • See your doctor
  • call healthdrect on 1800 022 222
  • Call the Sexual Health Helpline
    • metropolitan callers: (08) 9227 6178
    • country callers: 1800 198 205
  • Visit Healthysexual (external site) for information and free online chlamydia and gonorrhoea testing (external site)
  • Contact your local sexual health clinic (external site)


  • Lymphogranuloma venereum, or LGV, is a sexually transmissible infection (STI).
  • It can be treated with antibiotics.

Public Health

This publication is provided for education and information purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical care. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement and is not intended to replace advice from your healthcare professional. Readers should note that over time currency and completeness of the information may change. All users should seek advice from a qualified healthcare professional for a diagnosis and answers to their medical questions.

Anyone can be a HealthySexual: talk, test, protect