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There are a range of bugs and viruses that you can catch during sex. Learn about Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs), how to prevent them, how to diagnose them and how they are treated.


What is it?

Donovanosis is a bacterial infection that can cause genital ulcers.

How do you get it?

You can only get donovanosis from sexual contact with someone who has donovanosis — through oral sex, anal sex, vaginal or front-hole sex. A small proportion of people can get donovanosis through non-sexual skin-to-skin contact.

Donovanosis is more common in tropical parts of the world. In Australia, donovanosis is almost unknown outside Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations living in remote communities of northern Australia.

What are the symptoms?

Some people don’t have symptoms when they get donovanosis, which means you can have donovanosis and not know about it. If you do get symptoms, they can appear around one to four weeks after exposure, but may take as long as a year to develop.

Common symptoms may include:

  • Painless ulcers or sores around the mouth, cock, arse, vagina or front-hole
Diagnosis and treatment

A doctor diagnoses donovanosis by taking a sample or a swab of any sore or ulcer for laboratory testing.

Treatment is straightforward with a short course of antibiotics. Avoid all sexual contact until after you complete treatment to stop donovanosis from spreading.

How do you prevent it?

Apart from not having any sex, the most effective way to help prevent donovanosis is to use condoms, dams and gloves during sex. However, donovanosis can still spread even when these barriers are used.