Persistent Genital Arousal Disorder (also known as Persistent Sexual Arousal Syndrome) results in a spontaneous and persistent genital arousal, with or without orgasm or genital engorgement, unrelated to any feelings of sexual desire. It was first documented by Dr. Sandra Leiblum in 2001, only recently characterized as a distinct syndrome in medical literature. Some physicians use the term Persistent Sexual Arousal Syndrome to refer to the condition in women; others consider the syndrome of priapism in men to be the same disorder. In particular, it is not related to hypersexuality, sometimes known as nymphomania or satyriasis. In addition to being very rare, the condition is also frequently unreported by sufferers who may consider it shameful or embarrassing.
Physical arousal caused by this syndrome can be very intense and persist for extended periods, days or weeks at a time. Orgasm can sometimes provide temporary relief, but within hours the symptoms return. The symptoms can be debilitating, preventing concentration on mundane tasks. Some situations, such as riding in an automobile or train, vibrations from mobile phones, and even going to the toilet can aggravate the syndrome unbearably.
There is not enough known about Persistent Genital Arousal Disorder to definitively pinpoint a cause. Medical professionals think it is caused by an irregularity in sensory nerves, and note that the disease has a tendency to strike post-menopausal women in their 40s and 50s, or those who've undergone hormonal treatment. But, there have also been cases reported among women in their 30s.
Some drugs such as trazodone may cause it as a side effect, in which case discontinuing the medication may give relief. Additionally, the condition can sometimes start only after the discontinuation of SSRIs. In some recorded cases, the syndrome was caused by a pelvic arterial-venous malformation with arterial branches to the penis or clitoris; surgical treatment was effective in this case.
In other situations where the cause is unknown or less easily treatable, the symptoms can sometimes be reduced by the use of antidepressants, antiandrogenic agents and anaesthetising gels. Psychotherapy with cognitive reframing of the arousal as a healthy response may also be used.
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