Donovanosis is a condition that causes ulcers to form on the genitals. 

It is caused by a bacteria and can be cured with antibiotics. It is found across the world in people who live in poor living conditions.


People with donovanosis usually notice 1 or more fairly painless ulcers or nodules on the genitals, or around the anus. 

These will get bigger if they are not treated. Other bacteria can infect these sores and cause pain and a distressing and unpleasant smell.

Symptoms generally appear within a few weeks of contact.

How does someone get infected

Donovanosis is a sexually transmissible infection (STI). 

A very small proportion of people may be infected through direct, non-sexual contact. There have been reports of the infection being spread from mother to child during delivery, but this is very rare.

How do I know I have it

There are a number of causes of genital ulcers, the doctor, nurse or health worker will take specimens from the sore as well as doing a blood test and collecting specimens to detect other STIs. 

They will start you on treatment straight away.


It is easy to treat donovanosis with antibiotics. The ulcers start healing within days. Pain killers may be taken if the ulcer is painful.

After 3 and 6 months you will be contacted by the clinic staff to check that the ulcer has not returned.

What if it's not treated

If the sores are not treated, the genitals can become scarred and distorted. If the ulcers are extensive, anaemia can result from long term blood loss. 

Cancer of the genitals has been reported to be associated with donovanosis.

If you have a genital ulcer you have a higher risk of being infected with HIV if you are exposed to it.

Recent sexual partners 

You should contact recent sexual partners. They should be examined, offered testing for other STIs and treated as appropriate. 

Clinic staff can offer confidential help if you are having difficulty advising contacts.


For more information contact the Centre for Disease Control's Clinic 34.

Last updated: 12 May 2016

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