What is Persistent Genital Arousal Disorder (PGAD)

What is Persistent Genital Arousal Disorder (PGAD)?

Persistent genital arousal disorder (PGAD), or paraphilia, is a sexual orientation in which individuals experience recurrent, intense sexually arousing fantasies, urges and behaviors involving their genitals. These are not necessarily directed at other people but rather toward themselves. Individuals with PGD may engage in these activities alone or in groups, however they usually only act out one type of behavior: masturbation.

Individuals with PGD may identify as heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual or asexual. They may also have a strong preference for any gender. Some individuals with PGD will masturbate over and over again without ejaculating; others will only ever touch themselves during masturbation. Others still will never engage in any kind of sexual activity whatsoever. There are no known treatments for PGD.

However, there are several therapies that can help those suffering from it improve their lives and live fulfilling lives in general.

How common is PGD?

The exact number of people with PGD is unknown. Estimates range between 1% and 5%. Most studies suggest that rates are higher than those estimates. Studies have found that up to 50% of males in some countries report having had at least one sexual fantasy involving their genitals. About 20% of females in the same surveys reported experiencing such fantasies. This is compared to those with PGD, who experience such fantasies on a regular basis. Furthermore, some studies suggest that sexual arousal can occur in people who do not have PGD. For example, some males and females become aroused when they see or experience an injury to the genitals. These types of arousal are generally short-lived and are not considered to be a disorder.

What are the causes of PGD?

The exact cause of PGD is unknown. It is likely that there are a combination of factors that lead to the development of the disorder. Some of those factors could be genetics, environment, internal anatomy and psychology. It is believed that it is not something that can be acquired from someone else.

Is PGAD curable?

PGAD is not curable at this time. Several therapies have been attempted with limited success in treating the condition. In some cases, treating other disorders such as depression has helped those with PGAD. It is important to speak with a medical professional before making any lifestyle changes.

What are the different types of PGAD?

Persistent genital arousal disorder (PGAD) is a condition in which an individual experiences persistent sexual arousal. There are several different types of the disorder. These include:

Unprovoked genital arousal: Also known as PGAD, this type of the condition causes the genitals to become engorged and aroused for extended periods of time. This can lead to pain and discomfort. The arousal may not be triggered by anything in particular. It occurs spontaneously. It can occur at any time during the day or night.

Provoked genital arousal: In this type of the condition, the arousal is accompanied by a sexual fantasy or memory. This may cause an erection in males and vaginal lubrication in females.

Unsolicited genital arousal: Also known as UNA, this type of the condition causes the genitals to become engorged and aroused during sleep. The arousal can occur without any accompanying thoughts, memories or fantasies. It can be partially or completely accompanied by dreams. The arousal can last anywhere between several minutes and several hours.

Provoked unsolicited genital arousal: Also known as PUGA, this type of the condition is a combination of provoked and unsolicited genital arousal. This means that the arousal is both accompanied by fantasy or memories and occurs during sleep.

Who suffers from PGAD?

Both men and women suffer from PGAD. It appears that women are more commonly affected by the disorder. Studies have found that up to 15% of women suffer from PGAD. Men are much less likely to suffer from the condition. Estimates suggest that between 1% and 5% of males suffer from PGAD.

Is there any treatment for PGAD?

Genital massage may help if massage is applied within five minutes of the condition beginning. If it lasts longer than that, it will not help. The use of anesthetic gels or creams may also help to relieve the condition for a short time.

Medications such as tricyclic antidepressants, anticonvulsants and local anesthetics have all been used to treat the condition with limited success. If these fail, surgery may be an option. Nerve transfers can be used to reroute sensation from other parts of the body to the genitals. This can be an effective treatment in some cases.

What is PGAD?

It’s basically like being turned on all the time.

What are the symptoms of PGAD?

The primary symptom is an ongoing state of sexual arousal that is not linked to any kind of stimulation or desire. In women, the genitals become engorged and may be slightly painful. Genital stimulation may relieve the symptoms but will often lead to more arousal and does not bring any kind of satisfaction. In males, the genitals become engorged and erect. Erection may or may not be accompanied by ejaculation. Erection may or may not be linked to masturbation or sexual fantasy.

How is PGAD diagnosed?

There is no specific test for PGAD. It is typically diagnosed based on the symptoms that an individual describes to their physician.

How common is PGAD?

The frequency of the condition is not known. It may be more or less common than currently believed based on how commonly it is diagnosed. It is often thought that PGAD is much more common than it actually is, which may be due to the tendency for sufferers to cover up the symptoms and the highly sensitive nature of the disorder.

How is PGAD treated?

The only effective treatment for PGAD is a surgical procedure known as a nerve transfer. This involves taking nerve signals from another part of the body and transferring them to the genital area. This can only be performed by a skilled surgeon and the success rate is only around 50%. It is not known how or why nerve transfers work in PGAD sufferers.

Is there any other help for PGAD?

The use of antidepressants may help to relieve some of the symptoms. These shouldn’t be relied on as the only treatment and they certainly won’t cure the condition.

What are the causes of PGAD?

The exact causes of the condition are not known. There may be a link between PGAD and autism spectrum disorders. There doesn’t appear to be any genetic link and it may be brought on by stress or some kind of chemical imbalance in the brain.

How do I know if I have PGAD?

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms of the condition, you should consult a doctor immediately. The sooner that treatment can begin, the more effective it is likely to be.

How do I prevent PGAD?

There is no known way to prevent the condition except by avoiding all stresses in life. This isn’t really an option for most people.

Is there any cure for PGAD?

There is no cure for PGAD. The condition cannot be cured but it can be treated and the symptoms can be managed.

What is the prognosis for PGAD?

The prognosis varies from person to person. Some sufferers can lead relatively normal lives with ongoing treatment and medication. Others are severely limited by the disorder and require constant attention. In some cases, suicide has been considered as a solution to the condition. This is a highly dangerous option and should be avoided at all costs. There are support groups available for PGAD sufferers. Seek them out and use them. You are not alone with this condition.

What is the relationship between autism and PGAD?

There appears to be some link between PGAD and autism spectrum disorders in males. It is possible for males to have both conditions at the same time. Females with PGAD do not show a similar incidence of autism spectrum disorders.

Are there any support groups for PGAD sufferers?

There are several support groups available for PGAD sufferers and their families. It is recommended that you join one as soon as possible.

Are there any support groups for partners of PGAD sufferers?

Partners of PGAD sufferers often feel isolated by the condition and tend to have specific issues that they need help to deal with. It is highly recommended that partners seek out a partner support group as soon as possible. Any doctor can provide a referral.

Is suicide ever a solution to PGAD?

Under no circumstances is suicide ever a solution to PGAD. Even the most seemingly unbearable suffering is better than death, which solves nothing and leaves you with permanent scars for those you leave behind.

What does the future hold for PGAD sufferers?

Many PGAD sufferers go on to live happy and fruitful lives with ongoing treatment. Some suffer from recurring bouts of depression and anxiety related to their condition. These can often be managed with ongoing treatment as well.

Sources & references used in this article:

Prevalence of sacral spinal (Tarlov) cysts in persistent genital arousal disorder by BR Komisaruk, HJ Lee – The Journal of Sexual Medicine, 2012 – Elsevier

Persistent genital arousal disorder in women: case reports of association with anti-depressant usage and withdrawal by SR Leiblum, D Goldmeier – Journal of sex & marital therapy, 2008 – Taylor & Francis

Persistent genital arousal disorder: What it is and what it isn’t by S Leiblum – Contemp Sex, 2006 – pdfs.semanticscholar.org