Lymphogranuloma venereum (the ‘other’ chlamydia)

Lymphogranuloma venereum is a sexually transmitted infection that develops from the Chlamydia trachomatis bacteria that causes regular chlamydia.

It is NOT the same as the chlamydia that causes urethral symptoms (urethritis) and cervicitis. Lymphogranuloma venereum is most common in tropical and subtropical areas, however the infection is becoming more common in Europe amongst men who have sex with men.

Symptoms of Lymphogranuloma venereum

  • Symptoms start about 3 or so days after infection
  • Small, painless, fluid-filled blisters on penis or vulva
  • Sores quickly peel and may go unnoticed
  • Then, painful, swollen lymph glands in the groin (buboes) attach to deeper tissue and skin overtop, causing inflammation
  • The overtop skin may start to discharge blood or pus onto the skin, from beneath
  • A fever or general unwellness may be present
  • Women may get a backache or pelvic pain
  • When infection lasts a long time, lymphatic vessels may become blocked and cause swelling, with sores on the skin
  • Rectal infection can cause scarring, possibly narrowing the rectum

Diagnosis of lymphogranuloma venereum

A blood test will be done, after examination and history of symptoms is taken. The symptoms are quite characteristic, so identifying this STI is not complicated. Antibody tests can be taken.

Treatment of lymphogranuloma venereum

Treatment is oral antibiotics (doxycycline, erythromycin, tetracycline) for three weeks cures the infection, however if damage to lymphatic vessels or the rectum has occurred, this is irreversible.

Any sexual partners should be examined and treated too, so make sure you get in touch with any partners who may have come into contact with this bacteria.

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Jessica Lloyd - Vulvovaginal Specialist Naturopathic Practitioner, BHSc(N)

Jessica is a degree-qualified naturopath (BHSc) specialising in vulvovaginal health and disease, based in Melbourne, Australia.

Jessica is the owner and lead naturopath of My Vagina, and is a member of the:

  • International Society for the Study of Vulvovaginal Disease (ISSVD)
  • International Society for the Study of Women's Sexual Health (ISSWSH)
  • National Vulvodynia Association (NVA) Australia
  • New Zealand Vulvovaginal Society (ANZVS)
  • Australian Traditional Medicine Society (ATMS)