We arrive at a new week, a new disease, and a new client in New Jersey named Joy who seeks your help in finding a cure for Persistent Genital Arousal Disorder, a condition relating mainly to women's sexual health, in which afflicted women suffer from sudden and frequent feelings of genital arousal that are qualitatively different from the kind of sexual arousal that is associated with sexual desire or subjective arousal. Masturbation and orgasms offer little or no relief. It is a very rare condition and it is possible that sufferers don't report the condition because of the shame and embarrassment the disclosure would involve.
The Back Story
Joy, 51, Italian, happily married, ran two businesses - selling antiques and was a pet rescuer for 25 years. She was never sick nor a substance abuser. She was a smoker who had to quit in 2011. All seemed well in the world until October 2010 ... when Joy had her gall badder removed. In February 2011 she developed a cerebral hemorrhage. Fully recovered and off medication, she suddenly developed Persistent Genital Arousal Disorder. She is unable to -- work, sit for long periods of time, among other things we do daily and take for granted. She only asks that if you suffer with the same condition, or can help her in any way, as there doesn't seem to be much research or a support group for PSAS yet, to send her an email.
A new chapter in Joy's life has begun - the quest for answers many people take to find out some greater truth after an accident, illness, or epiphany changes the course of their lives. For some the journey comes with few obstacles and is embraced quickly, especially in these end times, while for others it involves pain, suffering and a difficult time. We wish Joy good luck in finding her answers and a cure.
- Persistent Genital Arousal Disorder (PGAD), originally called Persistent Sexual Arousal Syndrome (PSAS) and also known as Restless Genital Syndrome or Mempin Syndrome (ReGS or RGS), results in a spontaneous, persistent, and uncontrollable genital arousal, with or without orgasm or genital engorgement, unrelated to any feelings of sexual desire. It was first documented by Dr. Sandra Leiblum in 2001, only recently characterized as a distinct syndrome in medical literature with a comparable counterpart increasingly reported by men.
Some physicians use the term Persistent Sexual Arousal Syndrome to refer to the condition in women; others consider the syndrome of priapism in men to be the same disorder. Priapism is a recognized diagnosable medical condition by the DSM-IV, whereas PGAD is not. In particular, it is not related to hypersexuality, sometimes known as nymphomania or satyriasis. Hypersexuality, nymphomania and satyriasis are also not recognized diagnosable medical conditions by the DSM-IV. In addition to being very rare, the condition is also frequently unreported by sufferers who may consider it shameful or embarrassing.
Physical arousal caused by this syndrome can be very intense and persist for extended periods, days or weeks at a time. Orgasm can sometimes provide temporary relief, but within hours the symptoms return. The return of symptoms, with the exception of known triggers, is sudden and unpredictable. Failure or refusal to relieve the symptoms often results in waves of spontaneous orgasms in women and ejaculation in men. The symptoms can be debilitating, preventing concentration on mundane tasks. Some situations, such as riding in an automobile or train, vibrations from mobile phones, and even going to the toilet can aggravate the syndrome unbearably causing the discomfort to verge on pain. It is not uncommon for sufferers to lose some or all sense of pleasure over the course of time as release becomes associated with relief from pain rather than the experience of pleasure.
A Dutch study has connected PSAS with restless legs syndrome.
There is not enough known about persistent genital arousal disorder to definitively pinpoint a cause. Medical professionals think it is caused by an irregularity in sensory nerves, and note that the disorder has a tendency to strike post-menopausal women, or those who have undergone hormonal treatment. It can affect a person at any age.
Some drugs such as trazodone may cause priapism (which is recognized medical condition, unlike PGAD) as a side effect, in which case discontinuing the medication may give relief. Additionally, the condition can sometimes start only after the discontinuation of SSRIs. In some recorded cases, the syndrome was caused by or can cause a pelvic arterial-venous malformation with arterial branches to the penis or clitoris; surgical treatment was effective in this case.
In other situations where the cause is unknown or less easily treatable, the symptoms can sometimes be reduced by the use of antidepressants, antiandrogenic agents and anaesthetising gels. Psychotherapy with cognitive reframing of the arousal as a healthy response may also be used.
More recently, the symptoms of the condition have also been linked with pudendal nerve entrapment. Regional nerve blocks and less common surgical intervention have demonstrated varying degrees of success in most cases. There is, however, no evidence for the long-term efficacy of surgical intervention.
In one recent case, serendipitous relief of symptoms was noted from treatment with varenicline, a treatment for nicotine addiction.
Restless Genital Syndrome (ReGS) is a condition (as yet) only found in women. ReGS causes a woman to constantly feel the sensation of being on the verge of an orgasm. These sensations are located at the clitoris, vagina, labia and the region around the vagina, (such as on the pubic bone and the groin) and sometimes the anal region. Typical for these pre-orgasmic sensations is that they are not accompanied by sexual fantasies or genuine sexual desires. The symptoms therefore can better be described as arousal sensations of the genitals (genital arousal) than genuine sexual excitement.
ReGS can arise gradually or suddenly. Some women initially experience it as a pleasant sensation but soon they become desperate and depressed. The sensations of genital arousal does not recede if the woman has reached an orgasm by masturbation or sexual intercourse. To the contrary, in some women the feelings return stronger. Women suffering from this are not out to get sex, they just want to get rid of the feeling that irritates them so much. Most women, who suffer from this condition, are hesitant to discuss it with anyone out of shame. This makes them feel even more alone with their condition. Often they are not taken seriously by their doctor or specialist because most doctors have never heard of the syndrome.