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Persistent sexual arousal disorder can induce unsettling orgasmic sensations

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Persistent genital arousal disorder may make you feel that you are about to have an orgasm at any time without any sexual desire. Read on to know more.

Written by Jahnavi Sarma |Updated : August 1, 2019 9:00 PM IST

Persistent genital arousal disorder is an unsettling disorder that affects both men and women. However, it is more common in women. Symptoms are an insistent, spontaneous and uncontainable genital arousal. It can induce spontaneous orgasms. However, this has no connection to sexual arousal or desire. It could be due to neurological or vascular changes. But healthcare professionals are not clear about what exactly causes this disorder.

This condition can affect day-to-day life and cause social embarrassment. A woman suffering from this condition undergoes physical pain, stress and psychological problems. Age is irrelevant and this disorder can affect women of any age.

History of sexual abuse may induce this disorder: Experts

In fact, a research says that women suffering from persistent genital arousal disorder, a condition marked by unprovoked, intrusive and persistent sensations of genital arousal that are unrelieved by one or several orgasms, may experience associated psychological conditions. Women who have this rare and often distressing condition often suffer from depression, anxiety and panic attacks. They may also have a past history of sexual abuse. A feeling of frustration, guilt, anxiety and distress further exacerbate the condition.

Researchers from the International Society for the Study of Women's Sexual Health say that a majority of women who suffer from PGAD also have pre-existing stress-related illnesses. However, they agree that PGAD is not all in the mind. They recommend that these women should be assessed thoroughly with empathy and careful attention to their symptoms and history. The Journal of Sexual Medicine published this study.

Overactive bladder may cause persistent imminent orgasms disorder

Another research says that persistent genital arousal disorder in women are associated with restless legs and an overactive bladder. Researchers from Utrecht University and The Hague's HagaHospital studied 18 Dutch women with persistent sexual arousal disorder and published their results in the Journal of Sexual Medicine. The majority of women in the study reported that their complaints were accompanied by restless legs and frequent urge to urinate. Some of them reported to have restless legs symptoms long before their genital complaints. MRI-scan and ECHO-Doppler investigations of the pelvis and genitals revealed a high prevalence of pelvic varicosis.

Symptoms of persistent genital arousal disorder

The common symptoms of persistent genital arousal disorder are uncomfortable sensations in and around the genital tissues. This includes the clitoris, labia, vagina, perineum and anus. The sensations experienced are known as dysesthesias. A woman with this condition may experience wetness and pressure in the genital area. Sensations like itching, burning, pounding and pins and needles are also common. She may feel that she is about to have an orgasm at any time.

But these feelings are not related to any sexual activity or desire. And, an orgasm will not provide relief. A woman with this disorder may display signs of anxiety, depression, frustration, guilt and insomnia. She may also be prone to panic attacks. She may gradually lose interest in sex.

Causes of persistent genital arousal disorder

This disorder can be triggered by stress and anxiety. Sexual stimulation and masturbation can also induce this condition. But, very often, a woman is unable to identify what the triggers are. Most experts think it is a psychological disorder. But this is a false notion. Many researches have implied a link between PGAD and the veins, hormones, nervous system, and chemical balance after using some types of medication.

But at the same time, this condition may be due to an underlying medical condition. Tourette's syndrome, trauma to the central nervous system, epilepsy and lower back surgery can induce this condition. It could also be the result of hormonal changes or a reaction to certain medications.

Tarlov cysts, sacs filled with spinal fluid that appear on the sacral nerve root, may cause this disorder. Sacral nerves receive electrical signals from the brain. They then relay these signals to the bladder, colon and genitals.

A compressed pudendal nerve, which enables you feel sensations around your genitals, may also cause PGAD. Sometimes it could be due to priapism in your clitoris. This happens when your clitoris stays engorged or erect for long periods of time.


A doctor gives a diagnosis of PGAD if you display the following five symptoms.

  1. Involuntary genital and clitoral arousal that continues for hours, days or months.
  2. No cause for the persistent genital arousal can be identified.
  3. The genital arousal is not associated with sexual desire.
  4. The persistent sensations of genital arousal feel intrusive and unwanted.
  5. After one or more orgasms, the genital arousal does not go away.

Treatment options

Usually, your doctor may recommend a psychological assessment and testing and a physical examination of your genital area. He may prescribe tests to measure blood flow to your genitals before, during and after sexual arousal. It may also be necessary for you to undergo neurological testing to see if any nerve damage is causing the condition.

Doctors usually try to manage the symptoms. There are no definite treatment options for this condition. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) may help. This therapy may help women identify their triggers. It can also help in dealing with the associated stress, anxiety and depression. Other than this, electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) may also be useful. In extreme cases, small electrical charges may be passed through the brain of a sedated patient.

If you have this condition, you can get relief by applying ice to the pelvic area. Pelvic muscle relaxation exercises may also help.

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