Skip to main content


How common is LGV?

LGV (Lymphogranuloma venereum), an infection normally only seen in tropical countries, was first seen among UK gay and bisexual men in 2004. It’s been mostly connected to the sex club and sex party scene, especially among men who bareback and/or fist or get fisted. Over a 1,000 men had been diagnosed with it by 2010. Most of them also have HIV.

What causes LGV?

LGV is caused by a type of chlamydia bacteria that attack the lymph glands.

Symptoms aren’t always noticeable and doctors sometimes mistake them for other conditions.


Most infections among UK gay and bisexual men have been in the arse, but can be in the dick, and rarely in the mouth or throat.

Symptoms might be:

  • blood or pus coming from painful anal abscesses and ulcers
  • painful inflammation (‘proctitis’) and difficulty shitting
  • might feel ill, get a fever or lose weight
  • small, painless sore where bacteria got into the arse or dick
  • if on dick then discharge or pain when you piss, swollen and leaking glands on groin
  • if in mouth or throat, then swollen glands in the neck.

If LGV isn’t treated

Left untreated LGV can cause lasting damage. The inside of your arse can be so seriously damaged that you might need surgery. Your dick and ball sack can swell massively with blocked fluid.

How is LGV passed on?

  • fucking or being fucked
  • fisting or being fisted
  • sucking or being sucked
  • arse play in general.

Using things like dildos on more than one man’s arse can also spread the infection.

How is LGV prevented?

You can reduce the risk of LGV by:

  • using a condom
  • using latex gloves for fisting
  • covering dildos with a fresh condom each time you use them and afterwards washing them with warm soapy water and antibacterial soap or a mix of one part bleach to 9 parts water then rinsing thoroughly
  • not sharing enemas and douching equipment.

If several men are having sex, fresh condoms and latex gloves are needed for each man they’re used with.

No-one’s immune to LGV. If you have had it before, you can get it again.

How is LGV treated?

A sample of piss or a swab from the affected area is tested for chlamydia. If positive, further tests are done to look for LGV.

A three-week course of antibiotics cures LGV as long as it’s caught before too much damage has been done.

If you have any inflammation in your arse, a check-up is essential and you should avoid having sex until the doctor or clinic tells you it’s OK.

Because LGV causes bleeding and skin damage it makes it easier for HIV, syphilis and hepatitis C to spread. If you have HIV and you’re undetectable then LGV and other infections don’t appear to make you more likely to pass on HIV.

If you get LGV the people you’ve had sex with need to get checked for infections. If you don’t want to contact them, the clinic can do this for you anonymously.

Last review: 09/11/2018
Next review: 09/11/2021