Yes, Persistent Genital Arousal Disorder Is a Thing — No, It's Not Pleasant
Sexual arousal can be a really great thing in the right time and place. But for those with persistent genital arousal disorder, also known as restless genital syndrome, it's something they deal with far more frequently. Characterized by constant and often uncontrollable sexual arousal unrelated to sexual desire, PGAD can make life extremely difficult.
“The term genital arousal disorder refers to the inability to attain or maintain typical responses in a situation that would normally produce sexual arousal,” explains Dr. Marsha K. Guess, who specializes in female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery at the University of Colorado Hospital. “This may include persistent vaginal dryness or lack of genital swelling during stimulation.”
It is classified as an extremely rare condition; so rare it’s unknown how many people it affects in the overall population. Medical research conducted on those with PGAD is often limited to case studies to better understand the symptoms on an individual basis. However, many people experience sexual dysfunction even without having been diagnosed with persistent genital arousal disorder.
However, do not confuse this serious medical condition with hypersexuality, nymphomania or satyriasis, as it is not considered a psychiatric disorder.
Sometimes, certain activities may trigger these sensations, such as riding a bike, but oftentimes, the symptoms occur when someone is sitting or lying down. However, feeling aroused to the point where you’re struggling to perform everyday tasks and duties because of these sensations is indicative of a larger problem.
While there aren’t any cures available, there are definitely ways to treat persistent arousal.
“Personal lubricants can help with vaginal dryness,” explains Dr. Kathleen Connell, who also specializes in female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery at the University of Colorado Hospital. “There are also water-based and silicone-based products. Some women prefer natural oils such as coconut oil.”
Sex toys can also improve healthy arousal, Connell mentions.
This medical condition can affect anyone, regardless of what gender a person was assigned with at birth. Symptoms are similar for men, women and gender nonconforming people. According to an article in Men’s Health, someone with persistent genital arousal disorder may feel throbbing, tingling and/or overall sensitivity in their genitals without experiencing any sexual thoughts.
“It is variable as there are multiple etiologies and no specific medical or psychological solution,” adds Dr. Michael Krychman, OB-GYN and executive director of the Southern California Center for Sexual Health Survivorship. “The bottom line is to get help from a sexual medicine expert who is well versed in this condition and the [treatment] needs to be tailored to the specific individual."