Lymphogranuloma Venereum

Lymphogranuloma venereum is a sexually transmitted disease that is caused by certain subtypes of chlamydia. This disease used to be widespread in developing countries but it spreads even to the developed countries of Europe and U.S. The incidence is higher among members of gay minority.


Chlamydia microorganisms are intracellular parasites, which cause a number of diseases. Lymphogranuloma venereum is cause by some subtypes of chlamydia, which spread during sexual intercourse by body fluids and affect local lymph nodes. The microorganisms spread quite easily, usually through mucosal cracks and small wounds.


The symptoms depend on the area of entry. It becomes reddish, swollen and it can even ulcerate but after short time it heals. Within few days, the disease progresses into its next stage with a painful enlargement of the lymph nodes in the groin. The lymph nodes may fester, turn into abscesses and form skin fistulas (connection between the abscess and the body surface), through which the pus is drained. In addition to the groin, the affection can occur in the vicinity of anus (transmission by anal sex) or even in the neck area (transmission by oral sex). When the rectum is affected, the patient usually suffers from signs of rectal syndrome (frequent urges to defecate, painful bowel movements).


When there are the symptoms with a recent history of a risky sexual intercourse, it is important to think about the possibility of infection. Serological blood test may help to detect the presence of chlamydia.


The best prevention is non-promiscuous behavior and preference of safe sex. If the infection is detected, it is advisable to examine (and treat) any recent sexual contacts of the patient to prevent further spread of the infection.


The main therapeutic option is antibiotic treatment. Antibiotics usually quickly solve the infection and allow the affected tissues to heal. However, even when successfully treated, the infection can cause a permanent damage to the local lymphatic system causing swelling of the genitals. Rectal form of the infection can cause permanent scarring and narrowing of the anus resulting in troubles with defecation.


Jiri Stefanek, MD  Author of texts: Jiri Stefanek, MD
 Sources: basic text sources