What is Lymphogranuloma venereum (LGV)?

Lymphogranuloma venereum (LGV) is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by the bacteria Chlamydia trachomatis. It’s most commonly transmitted through sexual contact with an infected person. This includes oral, anal, and vaginal sex.

LGV can also be transmitted through contact with infected body fluids, including:

  • Blood
  • Semen
  • Mucus
  • Cervical fluids

However, LGV isn’t spread through these types of contact.

Symptoms of LGV

The main symptom of LGV is a painful swelling in the genital area (also known as a lymph node swelling). It can also cause a fever, aching, and chills.

It’s often possible to have LGV without any symptoms. But if you do experience any symptoms, they may include:

  • Painful genital swelling
  • A rash on the genitals
  • Painful or swollen testicles
  • Abdominal pain
  • Vomiting

These symptoms are often caused by LGV. They typically last for 2 to 3 weeks.

If you have LGV and don’t have symptoms, your doctor may still want to test you for other STIs. It’s best to wait to get tested for other STIs until you’re no longer experiencing symptoms of LGV.

How is LGV diagnosed?

LGV can be hard to diagnose. That’s because the symptoms are similar to those of other STIs, such as the ones we’ve already discussed.

Even if you’re experiencing symptoms of LGV, it can be hard to differentiate between LGV and another STI. If you have any symptoms of LGV, your doctor may recommend having a physical exam. They may also order blood tests.

Tests for LGV can include:

  • A blood test. This test can help your doctor diagnose LGV. It can detect the presence of the bacteria in your blood.
  • A urinalysis. This test can help your doctor identify which type of bacteria is causing your LGV.
  • A throat swab. This test can help your doctor identify the bacteria that’s causing your LGV.

Treatment for LGV

Treatment for LGV is generally based on the symptoms you’re experiencing. For example, if you’re experiencing a fever or chills, you may need to stay away from situations that may cause you to develop another type of infection.

Treatment may include:

  • Taking a round of antibiotics. This is usually an oral antibiotic, such as doxycycline.
  • Taking a round of antibiotics that are stronger than doxycycline. This is often an injection or intravenous (IV) antibiotic. These can help treat the LGV infection.
  • Taking a round of antibiotics for up to 3 days. This is usually an oral antibiotic, such as azithromycin or doxycycline.

How can you prevent LGV?

There’s no vaccine for LGV. But there are a few things you can do to help prevent LGV.

You can reduce your risk of contracting LGV by:

  • Lubricating your sex toys before and after use
  • Using a condom during sex
  • Using a condom during oral or anal sex
  • Using a latex barrier method during intercourse

It’s also important to keep yourself as healthy as possible. This includes taking lots of vitamin C to help your immune system fight off infections.

Risk factors for LGV

It’s possible to contract LGV if you have an STI. Having multiple sex partners is also a risk factor for LGV.

You’re at a higher risk of getting LGV if you:

  • Have sex without a condom or other barrier method
  • Have sex with multiple partners
  • Have sex with someone who has an STI

If you’re experiencing symptoms of LGV, your doctor will likely recommend that you stay away from sexual situations that could lead to your infection.

How is LGV treated?

Treatment for LGV isn’t always necessary. If you’re experiencing symptoms of LGV, your doctor may recommend that you wait to be tested for other STIs. You may also need to rest and take antibiotics until you’re no longer experiencing symptoms.

The treatment you’ll receive will depend on the type of antibiotic your doctor recommends.

Antibiotics to treat LGV

If you’re experiencing symptoms of LGV and your doctor recommends that you take antibiotics to treat it, they’ll likely prescribe a single oral antibiotic. These include doxycycline and azithromycin.

You may need to take a round of antibiotics for up to 3 days. You can take these with or after food.

Oral antibiotics can be taken at any time of day, but they’re usually taken in the morning.

If you’re taking an oral antibiotic, your doctor will tell you to take 2 to 3 pills per dose. This typically involves taking a pill every 12 hours.

What’s the outlook for LGV?

If you have LGV, you’ll generally be able to rest and take antibiotics for several weeks.

It’s possible to clear up the infection entirely. But it may take up to 6 weeks.

If you have LGV and you’re experiencing symptoms, make sure to rest and take antibiotics until the infection has cleared up.

If you’re experiencing a fever or chills, you may need to stay away from situations that could cause you to develop another type of infection. You should also rest as much as possible.

What are the complications of LGV?

Without treatment, LGV can have serious complications. They can include:

  • An STI infection that affects the brain
  • A brain abscess
  • A brain abscess with an infection
  • A brain abscess with an infection that’s caused by an STI

If you develop these complications, you’ll need to rest and take antibiotics.

The bottom line

Lymphogranuloma venereum (LGV) is a sexually transmitted disease (STD). It’s caused by a bacteria called Chlamydia trachomatis.

LGV is easily spread from one person to another. You can also get LGV if you touch your mouth or genitals with an infected person’s sex toy or their finger.

The most common symptoms of LGV are swollen lymph nodes. You can also get a fever, chills, body rash, sore throat, headache, joint pain, and blisters around your genitals.

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