STI: Two signs in your underwear signalling an infection with lymphogranuloma venereum

Facts about sexually transmitted diseases

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Many of us know the symptoms of more common STIs, like chlamydia and gonorrhoea, but there are many others that are less familiar. Lymphogranuloma venereum (LGV) is one such infection. Caused by a particular strain of chlamydia bacteria, it is “relatively rare” in the UK.

However, the symptoms of LGV can be particularly concerning for those infected.

According to NHS Inform, blood and/or pus from the anus in your underwear or after using toilet paper could be a red flag.

This is because the main symptoms can include “swollen lymph glands in the groin on one or both sides or an ulcer or sore on the penis, vagina or around the anus”.

If left untreated, LGV can cause “scarring and swelling” of the skin.

“It can also cause permanent swelling of the genitals,” NHS Inform says.

“Rectal infection can also cause swelling and scarring resulting in the risk of long term bowel complications.

“Rarely the infection may spread via the bloodstream causing inflammation of the joints or liver.”

Even if carriers don’t experience symptoms they can still pass it to a partner.

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NHS Inform states that LGV is “mostly acquired by men who have sex with men” and is “very rare” among women.

It says: “The main way of getting LGV is by having unprotected anal, vaginal or oral sex (without a condom).”

Your risk of getting LGV may be increased by:

  • chemsex (using drugs while having sex)
  • having group sex
  • sharing sex toys that aren’t washed or covered with a new condom each time they’re used

Other symptoms include:

  • pain in the anal area when pooing or having receptive anal sex
  • constipation, painful straining or loose poos when trying to open the bowels
  • a feeling of incomplete emptying after opening the bowels

“If your chlamydia test is positive, and your symptoms suggest that you may have LGV, the lab will do a further test for LGV,” NHS Inform says.

“When testing for LGV, a swab is taken from the back passage (rectum), vagina, throat or an ulcer (if you have one). A pee (urine) sample can also be used.

“If this sample tests positive for chlamydia and your doctor or nurse thinks you might have an LGV infection, the sample undergoes further testing for LGV. This can take up to three weeks.”

If you think you may have LGV it is advised that you make an appointment with your GP or local sexual health services.

As with all STIs the best way to reduce your risk is to practice safer sex.

And if you have a new partner, make sure that you both have a sexual health check-up before you have sex without condoms.

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