What is LGV?
LGV is short for Lymphogranuloma venereum. It is an infection of the urinary tract, throat and/or rectum. LGV is caused by 3 different types of the bacteria Chlamydia trachomatis (serovars L1, L2, L3). It is very common in Africa, Asia, South America and parts of the Caribbean, but cases have been reported in Toronto and other developed countries, especially among men who have sex with men (MSM).
How is it spread?
LGV is spread by anal, oral or vaginal sex without a condom. Transmission may also occur through condomless fisting or fingering of multiple partners at the same time or after each other. Sharing sex toys or sharing lubricant can also spread LGV.
What are the symptoms?
LGV has 3 stages:
How is it diagnosed?
The most common means of detecting LGV is through a blood test and a swab of the infected site (urethral, rectal or vaginal).
What are the complications?
Untreated, LGV can cause chronic draining and scarring, elephantiasis (swollen legs) and/or scrotal and penile swelling. In others, is can also cause salpingitis (inflammation of the uterine tubes), infertility and scarring of the labia.
How is it treated?
LGV is treated with antibiotics. It is important that you take all the pills as directed, even if the symptoms have disappeared.
What about sexual partners?
All sexual partners within the past 2 months should be examined and treated. They should be treated even if their test result is negative. If your partners do not have symptoms, it is still possible they have LGV.
Individuals should follow up with their doctor until symptoms have resolved. Do not have oral, vaginal or anal sex (even with a condom) while you and your partner are being treated.
Using a condom every time you have sex will greatly reduce your chances of getting LGV and other sexually transmitted infections. Wash or cover sex toys in a new condom, but it is best to not share sex toys. If you are fisting someone, wear latex gloves and do not share lubricant.