Lymphogranuloma venereum (LGV) is a long-term (chronic) infection of the lymphatic system. It is caused by any of 3 different types (serovars) of the bacteria Chlamydia trachomatis. The bacteria are spread by sexual contact. The infection is not caused by the same bacteria that cause genital chlamydia.
LGV is more common in Central and South America than in North America.
LGV is more common in men than women. The main risk factor is being HIV-positive.
Symptoms of LGV can begin a few days to a month after coming in contact with the bacteria. Symptoms include:
Drainage through the skin from lymph nodes in the groin
Long-term inflammation and swelling of the genitals
Scarring and narrowing of the rectum
Complications can occur many years after you are first infected.
When to Contact a Medical Professional
Call your provider if:
You have been in contact with someone who may have a sexually transmitted infection, including LGV
You develop symptoms of LGV
Not having any sexual activity is the only way to prevent a sexually transmitted infection. Safer sex behaviors may reduce the risk.
The proper use of condoms, either the male or female type, greatly decreases the risk of catching a sexually transmitted infection. You need to wear the condom from the beginning to the end of each sexual activity.
Batteiger BE, Tan M. Chlamydia trachomatis (trachoma, genital Infections, perinatal infections, and lymphogranuloma venereum). In: Bennett JE, Dolin R, Blaser MJ, eds. Mandell, Douglas, and Bennett's Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2015:chap 182.
Jatin M. Vyas, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor in Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Assistant in Medicine, Division of Infectious Disease, Department of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.