Persistent genital arousal disorder, a rare neurological affliction, can wreck women’s mental health

Updated on:10 January 2020, 18:04pm IST
Misfiring nerves can lead to PGAD or persistent genital arousal disorder, a rare syndrome which wreak havoc on women’s mental health and relationships.
ANI
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PGAD is no joking matter. GIF courtesy: Crazy Ex Girlfriend via Giphy

Sexual disorders and women go hand-in-hand. Be it not being to orgasm or severe vaginal dryness or a low libido–there are many issues that plague the sexual health of otherwise healthy women. Research is now shining the spotlight on another disorder–persistent genital arousal disorder (PGAD).

What is persistent genital arousal disorder?
A 2016 research paper published in the Indian Journal of Psychological Medicine states that PGAD is a phenomenon in which women feel constantly aroused–despite orgasms. The worst part? It can be triggered by both sexual and non-sexual stimuli and can naturally stress the sufferer.

Here’s something that’s more shocking about this disorder–PGAD is experienced exclusively by females.

Here is what latest research says
A study conducted by the researchers of Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), published in the journal PAIN Reports, has revealed that persistent genital arousal disorder (PGAD) can compromise the mental health of women and can severely damage relationships with their partners.

Also read: Sleep orgasm 101–here’s why it is totally normal for you to climax while you’re asleep

The results from the study suggest that PGAD can be caused by alteration of the firing of nerves that are known to carry sensations from genitalia or by damage caused to the lowest parts of the spinal cord. In short, it is a neurological disorder rather than a sexual one.

The study also indicated that neurological treatments can benefit many patients suffering from these diseases.

“It’s important that people know of this medical condition and that it is primarily a neurological problem, not a psychiatric one,” said lead researcher Bruce Price.

“Many affected women are silent and undercover–it’s in no way a fun condition, and it is difficult for patients to address their symptoms with their doctors, who have typically never heard of PGAD,” added Price.

The problem can be troublesome for adolescents and can cause shame, confusion, and fear. The study included ten females whose symptoms of PGAD started between the ages of 11 to 70 years.

Spinal nerve-root cysts were detected in four patients and generalised sensory nerve damage in two of them. One patient that had symptoms since childhood was born with a defect in her lowest spinal cord while one had a lumbosacral herniated disc in her lower back and another one developed short-lived PGAD as she stopped taking prescribed antidepressant medication.

Every psychiatric and gynaecological treatment was ineffective, and the injection of local anesthetics had no lasting benefit. In contrast, neurological treatments like treating nerve damage and cyst removal were effective in 80% of patients.

“Physicians need to be aware of PGAD and inquire about it when patients experience other pelvic pain or urological symptoms that often accompany PGAD,” said another researcher Anne Louise Oaklander.

“It’s treatable, but the treatment depends on the cause. By identifying some common causes–and localizing them to specific regions of the sacral nervous system–our study provides direction on how to help patients and to guide future research,” added Oaklander.

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