Feeling Chronically Aroused? It Might be PGAD.
Apr 13, 2020
Imagine you’re in the middle of a business meeting. Or in a cab on your way to the airport. Or at lunch with your mother-in-law.
And the feeling hits. It’s a tingly, throbbing feeling in your genitals.
You’re becoming sexually aroused.
Now, it’s not unusual to want sex at times. But in these scenarios, there is nothing sexually stimulating to trigger arousal. Your partner may be across town, and your mind is anywhere but your bedroom.
For women with persistent genital arousal disorder (PGAD), continuous sexual arousal is chronic, lasting for hours, or even days. (Note: PGAD is rare in men. Therefore, this post will focus on women’s experiences.) Some women’s vaginas start to lubricate or contract. Orgasm might bring short-term relief.
What causes PGAD? Experts aren’t sure. However, the condition appears to be aggravated when women are under stress. It may also worsen with vibrating motion or during urination.
The sensations associated with PGAD are unwelcome and distressing. Because scientists don’t know exactly what causes PGAD, it’s challenging to treat. Often, women feel awkward about their situation, fearing that they won’t be taken seriously.
Recent research has shed some light on women’s experiences. Let’s take a look.
PGAD and Other Medical Conditions
In an October 2019 Journal of Sexual Medicine study, researchers compared two groups of 72 women each. One group experienced persistent genital arousal. The rest of the women did not have problems with PGAD and served as a comparison group. All of the women completed an online survey.
The researchers discovered that women with PGAD were more likely to have certain physical and psychological conditions compared to women without PGAD, including the following:
- Restless leg syndrome
- Chronic pelvic pain
- Irritable bowel syndrome
The women with PGAD were also less satisfied with their relationships and reported greater sexual distress. Some avoided sexual relationships; 30% were not in relationships at the time of the survey.
Of great concern was a high rate of suicide ideation. More than half of the women in the PGAD group had had suicidal thoughts during the four weeks before the survey.
“Overall, the frequency of suicidal ideation, depression, and anxiety symptoms suggest that individuals with [persistent genital arousal] symptoms experience significant distress. This distress may be related to the discomfort of the symptoms themselves, the interference these symptoms have on daily functioning, the person’s own feelings of shame or embarrassment about the condition, or their inability to access knowledgeable healthcare providers and effective treatments,” the study authors wrote.
So what can women with PGAD do?
First, see your gynecologist. A thorough checkup can assess your overall gynecological health before you choose an action plan.
You might also try the following:
- Numbing the area. Some women apply ice packs or topical numbing products that can relieve the sensations temporarily.
- Stress management. Since PGAD symptoms are often triggered by stress, try to keep stress under control. Don’t hesitate to ask your partner, friends, or relatives for help if you need it.
- Pelvic floor physical therapy. This type of therapy strengthens your pelvic floor muscles, which hold your pelvic organs in place.
- Changes in medications. Ask your doctor or pharmacist whether medicines might be linked to PGAD sensations.
Psychotherapy. As noted above, PGAD is associated with higher rates of anxiety and depression. It’s important to address these conditions. With a therapist, you can develop some coping strategies.
Note: If you are having thoughts of suicide, call emergency services or your local suicide hotline immediately!
International Society for Sexual Medicine
“What is persistent genital arousal disorder (PGAD)?”
The Journal of Sexual Medicine
Jackowich, Robyn A., MSc, et al.
“A Comparison of Medical Comorbidities, Psychosocial, and Sexual Well-being in an Online Cross-Sectional Sample of Women Experiencing Persistent Genital Arousal Symptoms and a Control Group”
(Full-text. Published online: October 31, 2019)
“Persistent Genital Arousal Disorder (PGAD)”