Persistent Genital Arousal Disorder- Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis and Treatment

Persistent Genital Arousal Disorder

Persistent Genital Arousal Disorder is characterized by spontaneous, unrelenting, and uncontainable genital arousal which is seen mostly in females.

Women with PGAD experience a spontaneous orgasm but it doesn’t resolve arousal. In this case, arousal is not linked to sexual desire.

Persistent Genital Arousal Disorder

Persistent Genital Arousal Disorder

This disorder can lead to ongoing stress, physical pain and psychological difficulties which occur due to the inability to carry everyday tasks. This condition affects women almost all ages.

Symptoms of PGAD

The primary symptom of PGAD involves a series of uncontrollable sensations around the genital tissues which include clitoris, labia, perineum, vagina and anus. These sensations are known as dysesthesia which includes:

  1. Itching
  2. Wetness
  3. Pressure
  4. Pounding
  5. Burning
  6. Pins and needles

The person with PGAD consistently feels that they’re about to experience orgasm or waves of spontaneous orgasm. However, these symptoms are not related to sexual desire.

This condition can lead to psychological symptoms which impact the day to day living. It includes:-

  1. Panic attacks
  2. Anxiety
  3. Distress
  4. Depression
  5. Guilt
  6. Frustration
  7. Insomnia

If the condition becomes incurable the person may eventually lose their notion of sexual pleasure because orgasm might help with the pain rather than being an enjoyable experience.

Causes of PGAD

  1. Sexual stimulation
  2. Masturbation
  3. Anxiety
  4. Stress

Above mentioned factors can trigger PGAD. Some women with PGAD can not identify the triggers and the causes of the condition remain unknown.

Persistent Genital Arousal Disorder Causes

Persistent Genital Arousal Disorder Causes

Some women explained that stress is the major factor which causes the onset of the disorder. Research has shown that PGAD is linked with veins, hormones, nervous system and other chemicals and it was shown after the use of certain medications.

Some people also complained that going to the toilet results in Arousal which is painful.

Research has also come with PGAD as a secondary symptom of:-

  1. Tourette’s syndrome
  2. Trauma to the central nervous system
  3. Post-surgical effects of intervention for malformed veins.
  4. Epilepsy

Studies also found that PGAD is linked with changes in hormones and certain medications

Trazodone, which is an antidepressant has been linked to inflammation of symptoms because it happens from the sudden withdrawal of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) which are used in the treatment of depression.

Diagnosis of PGAD

It was certainly not possible to diagnose PGAD until recent years. Medical literature has classed PGAD as a distinctive disorder.

There are five listed criteria to accurately diagnose PGAD

  1. Involuntary arousal of genitals and clitoris for an extended period of time which might be for hours, days or months.
  2. Cause for the persistent arousal can not be found.
  3. Genital Arousal is not associated with sexual desire.
  4. Constant arousal which feels intrusive and unwanted.
  5. After orgasm, physical genital arousal doesn’t go away.

Treatment of PGAD

  1. Psychological treatment like cognitive behavioural therapy can help women identify their triggers. It can also help to provide some coping mechanism and distraction techniques to manage the symptoms.
  2. CBT is also helpful in the management of stress, anxiety and depression.
  3. In case of severe PGAD, electroconvulsive therapy has been successful in treatment.
  4. Ice bath has also been found to be helpful in the treatment of the patient.
  5. ECT is also used to treat this condition. In this small electrical charges are passed through the brain which makes rapid changes in the brain chemistry that helps to treat the psychological symptom.
  6. Anti-seizure and antidepressants also found to be helpful.
  7. In the case of Tarlov cyst the doctor might suggest a surgery which involves releasing nerve from entrapment.
  8. Changing the prescribed medication can also help to manage the condition.


Women with PGAD should feel embarrassed to seek medical assistance. This condition is not yet curable but the symptoms can be managed which helps to improve the quality of life of the patient.