Persistent genital arousal disorder (PGAD) is a distressing condition characterized by unwanted sensations, sensitivity and vasocongestion in the clitoral region that are not relieved by masturbation or orgasm. It usually affects women but has been reported in men and people assigned male at birth.
It’s upsetting and can strain relationships. It can also interfere with daily activities and cause a lot of stress.
Symptoms include unwanted physical sensations of sexual arousal (increased blood flow and pressure in the genital area) without the complementary psychological experience of desire. They can occur in response to sexual or non-sexual triggers and last for hours or days, even after an orgasm. In men, symptoms may be a persistent erection that lasts for several hours (called priapism).
In PGAD, you feel like you’re constantly on the verge of an orgasm, and that feeling can last for hours, days or weeks at a time. These feelings are not pleasant and can cause significant distress. For example, they can interfere with your work, school, social and family life and lead to depression and anxiety. In some cases, PGAD can be so bothersome that it leads to suicidal thoughts or attempts.
Researchers don’t know what causes PGAD, but it may be related to the way your brain processes sensory information from the genital region. For instance, if a nerve in the lower part of your spine is irritated—perhaps because of an injury or surgery—it can fire repeatedly without your consent and send sensory information to your brain about the genital area. Your brain then interprets these signals as arousal, even though you don’t feel any desire. In other cases, a medical condition, such as a pinched nerve or pelvic pain, may trigger PGAD.
First, your doctor will want to rule out any underlying medical conditions that could be causing the symptoms of PGAD. This can include a physical examination and tests to evaluate blood flow to the genital area and vaginal secretions.
Persistent genital arousal disorder is characterized by unwanted and uncontrollable sensations of pressure, discomfort, throbbing or engorgement in the genital area. These feelings are not accompanied by any sexual desire or arousal and do not resolve after one or more orgasms. Symptoms may last for hours, days or months and cause significant distress.
Some people with PGAD are very self-conscious about the condition and feel too embarrassed to talk about it. They may try to alleviate the symptoms by masturbating, but this offers only short-lived and superficial relief. The arousal, discomfort and pain in the pelvis and buttocks can also cause stress and anxiety that can contribute to symptom flare-ups.
PGAD affects mostly females and people assigned as female at birth, but it can also occur in men and those assigned as male at birth. It is similar to priapism, which occurs when an unwanted and prolonged erection develops in the penis. PGAD is different from hypersexuality, which involves desiring sex to the point of excess. Getting help for PGAD is important because it can have a serious impact on quality of life.
Persistent genital arousal disorder is an unpleasant condition that can cause discomfort and embarrassment. It is also hard to diagnose because symptoms can vary. The most common symptoms are unrelenting feelings of genital arousal and pelvic pain, lasting for hours or weeks at a time.
These sensations are different from the normal feeling of sexual arousal, in that they do not occur as a result of a desire for sex or pleasure. The arousal can be triggered by nonsexual stimuli or nothing at all.
Symptoms of PGAD include a feeling of fullness or swelling of the clitoris, anus, vulva, and nipples in women, and erections in men. These sensations can last for hours or weeks at a time, and they do not go away after an orgasm.
There are a number of potential causes of PGAD, including neurologic, vascular, physiological, and pharmacological factors. Some people develop the disorder after having brain surgery or because of complications from certain urological surgeries. Others develop PGAD because they stopped taking medications, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).
Living with PGAD can be difficult, and it is important for people who experience the symptoms to seek help. If the arousal is disruptive to daily life and causing distress, a healthcare provider can recommend a variety of treatments and coping strategies.
Although PGAD is rare, it is important for those who experience this condition to seek help because it can lead to distress, depression and anxiety. It can also cause problems with relationships and work. Getting help is the only way to reduce these symptoms and improve your quality of life. PGAD is a serious medical condition that can be prevented and treated. Other names for this disorder are persistent sexual arousal syndrome, restless genital sensations and perimenopausal pelvic arousal syndrome.
People with PGAD feel physical arousal symptoms, such as clitoral swelling and erections, without sexual thoughts or desire. These arousal symptoms can last hours or even days, and they don’t go away. They can occur with a sexual or non-sexual trigger and be a response to many other types of stimuli, including emotions. These sensations can also be triggered by drugs or alcohol and may be accompanied by headaches or back pain.
The good news is that PGAD can be treated with medication, psychological therapy and physical therapy. Psychotherapy and distraction techniques can help you cope with these sensations. Physical therapy can include pelvic floor exercises and acupuncture. Researchers are continually learning more about what causes PGAD and how to treat it effectively. People who experience this condition often have difficulty talking about it because they don’t want others to know about their arousal issues.