Persistent Genital Arousal Disorder (PGAD) is when a woman's genitals are physically aroused for hours, days, weeks or longer-but she doesn't feel any desire to have sex
. Having sex provides no relief, and orgasms don't help her arousal to subside. The word "distress" is often used to describe a woman's reaction to PGAD.*
PGAD is an unusual disorder that we know little about. It is difficult to treat and has only recently been recognized. While PGAD appears to be a complex syndrome with a wide array of possible causes, the two specific areas that have been studied the most are:
1.) PGAD as experienced by women who tend to be post menopausal and who appear to have a pudendal nerve neuralgia but no pre-existing psychological illness. This kind of neuralgia would impact the dorsal clitoral nerve. Marcel Waldinger has done the most work on this form of PGAD.
2.) PGAD as experienced by women who have a fairly extensive history of affective disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and sexual assault. This type of PGAD is considered to be a psychosomatic illness, where the women misinterpret genital sensations and experience them as negative events. Sandra Leiblum had done the most work with this form of PGAD.
These two types of PGAD clearly require different treatment approaches.
There have also been reports of PGAD occurring in women following the cessation of SSRI antidepressants, but this appears to be unusual.
*Before researchers agreed on the name of Persistent Genital Arousal Disorder (PGAD), this disorder was also called Persistent Sexual Arousal Syndrome (PSAS).
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The illustration above is by Daerick Gross Sr. from the Guide To Getting It On.