PGAD or Persistent Genital Arousal Disorder, generally has 5 aspects: “1. involuntary genital and clitoral arousal that persists for an extended period of time (hours, days, months); 2. the physical genital arousal does not go away following one or more orgasms; 3. the genital arousal is unrelated to subjective feelings of sexual desire; 4. the persistent feelings of genital arousal feel intrusive and unwanted; and 5. distress is associated with persistent genital arousal. ” (Leiblum, 2001) The syndrome was reported for the first time in medical literature in 2001 by Leiblum and Nathan.
At the Center we see women of all ages with PGAD. Sometimes the causes for older and younger women are different though the experience of coping with it is often the same. “A recent study of its prevalence in young women would suggest that as many as 1% of young women have the full blown syndrome. Recent population studies have highlighted low rates of women seeking medical or psychological help for sexual dysfunction despite reporting a high prevalence.” (Goldmeier et al. 2009) The reason that many women do not seek help is primarily due to shame and discomfort in talking about sexual issues. Many women feel afraid to discuss their condition with friends or practitioners and they become isolated. In our work with PGAD patients, we find that the ongoing support and freedom to explore different treatment options can be extremely helpful. We also offer a support group and discovered that women need to find a safe place to discuss their experiences because the isolation can be one of the most devastating aspects of this syndrome.