What is Persistent Genital Arousal Disorder?
As you go about your daily activities, it’s normal to come across situations and people that bring sexual thoughts to your mind and stir up certain feelings that might result in sexual arousal. But when you get aroused for no reason at all, over and over, randomly, throughout the day, then there’s most definitely a problem. You could be suffering from a condition called Persistent Genital Arousal Disorder (PGAD).
Also known as persistent sexual arousal syndrome, this disorder causes you to feel all the symptoms of sexual arousal without any sexual stimulation. It feels like you’re always on the verge of an orgasm, minus the pleasure, this feeling can last for hours or even weeks at a time, leaving you frustrated, drained, uncomfortable and embarrassed. The condition comes with excruciating pelvic pain and a feeling of genital congestion that you can’t get rid of no matter how hard you try. It affects your ability to live a normal life and go about your daily activities. Persistent Genital Arousal Disorder is not a very common disorder and like most sex-related problems, people find it difficult to address, making the condition all the more mysterious, to say the least.
The emotional distress caused by PGAD is severe and often leads to anxiety, depression and suicidal tendencies. Women suffer more from this disorder than men, so far, not much research has been done on the condition because it is relatively rare and people who suffer from it are sometimes too shy to come forward. The exact cause of Persistent Genital Arousal Disorder is not yet known, but there are speculations that it could be caused by neurological factors because the symptoms sometimes manifest after a head injury or brain lesions. Another possible cause is damage in the Pudendal nerve, the nerve that connects the brain to the genital organs.
Do I have Persistent Genital Arousal Disorder?
Have you been thinking about sex so much that you are wondering if you are a sex addict? If you feel the need for sex constantly and can’t seem to control it, you could be suffering from Persistent Genital Arousal Disorder. Here’s your chance to find out once and for all whether you have a disorder or you’re just a hypochondriac. We’ve put together some of the most common symptoms and characteristics of PGAD for your benefit.
Signs of PGAD
- Feelings of arousal in the genitals that are not linked to sexual desire, for example, you get aroused on a bumpy car ride, on a bike, a horse or when inserting a tampon.
- The primary symptom of PGAD is a series of ongoing and uncomfortable sensations in and around the genital tissues, including the clitoris, labia, vagina, perineum, anus, and penis for men.
- In women, there’s a swelling of the clitoris, vagina, and vaginal lips, as well as your nipples. In men, it causes erections that last several hours, resulting in pain in the penis area. It feels like you are about to have an orgasm but you never quite get there.
- Symptoms happen spontaneously, for little or no reason at all, muscle spasms run throughout your body, your face and neck become red or flushed, your heart rate is abnormally high and you breathe rapidly.
- You suffer from insomnia, anxiety, and depression due to your inability to control your sexual thoughts and desires at night. The symptoms last for hours, days or even weeks at a time, you never know what to expect.
- Masturbating provides a sense of temporary relief at best but the symptoms never completely disappear. An orgasm temporarily alleviates symptoms, but they return much more intense a few hours after. Episodes of intense arousal may occur several times a day for weeks, months, or even years. Each episode comes with painful contractions, itching, tingling, tightness, pulsing and pain in the genital areas, as well as a vaginal discharge.
How to deal with Persistent Genital Arousal Disorder
Like many other neurological conditions, there is no cure for PGAD, at the moment the only treatment available is to manage the symptoms. For example, masturbation can sometimes help relieve the feeling of arousal as well as the pain, but it’s merely a short term solution. Unless you want to masturbate all day long, you should consider the only other two long-term ways to handle PGAD, consisting of managing your arousal with medication or through different forms of therapy.
Since as there’s no specific medication for this condition per se, managing it requires using drugs for other disorders closely related to Persistent genital arousal disorder. Drugs such as clomipramine, an antidepressant often used to treat obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) sometimes helps. Fluoxetine a substance usually prescribed to patients with bulimia, panic disorder, and depressive disorder has been known to bring relief to persons with PGAD.
In one case, relief of symptoms was gotten from treatment with varenicline, a treatment for nicotine addiction. Another common course of action is the use of numbing gels to stop you from feeling anything around the genitals. There's no standard medication for PGAD, the condition is treated with everything from anti-neuralgic medicine usually prescribed for Parkinson's disease, to Botox injections.
2. Therapy options
Psychological methods are often your best bet when dealing with disorders, sometimes symptoms are triggered by or made worse by conditions such as anxiety, depression, feelings of shame and guilt. The recommended approach will be counseling and therapy. In terms of therapy there quite a number of options out there and it’s not uncommon for patients with PGAD to try more than one.
Electroconvulsive therapy, which is used for mental disorders such as bipolar and severe anxiety is sometimes prescribed. This method uses electrical currents to help relieve nerve pain, talking to a professional will help single out the predominant symptoms as well as emotional triggers that could be causing your PGAD.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) can also help you to learn to control your negative emotions and reactions situations that may exacerbate the symptoms of PGAD.
There are also other more holistic methods of therapy that can provide relief such as meditation which relaxes muscles and relieves pain, as well as helps, reduce symptoms. Acupuncture and pelvic floor physical therapy have also been known to provide relief to some patients.
3. Wear Comfortably And Keep An Active Lifestyle
Keep yourself active, albeit not too vigorous and wear comfortable clothing and undies to reduce PGAD from flaring up. By tugging too hard and brushing around your crotch area will make the PGAD from worsening.
Yoga, brisk walking or gentle stretches will be a good form of exercise to start off with. Avoid hot pants, skinny jeans and keep to loose bottoms and tops to make yourself comfortable.
4. Find a Support Community
Find friends and family who you can talk to about your condition. Find support and read up more on how to manage the disorder.
Here is a really good site with comprehensive information about PGAD and the support groups.
Research on Persistent genital arousal disorder only began in 2001, so there’s still a long way to go to better understand the condition. Though people often think it is a sexual disorder, doctors say it is more of a mental disorder. Research shows that Tarlov cysts may also be the cause of the condition. Tarlov cysts are sacs filled with spinal fluid in the sacral nerve root. The brain sends electrical signals to the sacral nerves found at the bottom of the spine which in turn instructs the genitals, bladder, and colon. A 2012 study, found out that 66.7 percent of women with PGAD symptoms also have a Tarlov cyst.
Not much is known of the disorder yet, but one thing is for sure, the condition is very difficult to deal with. It comes along with physical pain as well as psychological trauma but there’s nothing to be ashamed of, if you’re suffering you don't handle it alone, talk to a therapist or a doctor and get help. Ideally, the best treatment will be a blend of medication and therapy while looking forward to a possible cure in the near future.