Saturday, April 17, 2010

CNN on persistent genital arousal disorder (PGAD)

CNN has a story that seems to be capturing quite a bit of traffic this weekend. Titled, "When being turned on is a turnoff," this article focuses on an unusual medical condition called persistent genital arousal disorder (PGAD). According to Wikipedia, PGAD used to be called Persistent Sexual Arousal Syndrome (PSAS) and Restless Genital Syndrome or Mempin Syndrome (ReGS or RGS). I admit that I never learned about persistent genital arousal disorder during medical school. I also don't remember learing about hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD) during medical school.

So, what exactly is PGAD? Could it be linked to restless legs syndrome? How about priapism? I think we probably have more questions than answers when it comes to PGAD and I imagine that we'll learn more as science unveils the underlying pathophysiology of PGAD. You may be surprised to hear that PGAD could be linked to abruptly stopping antidepressants like selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).

Earlier this week, we also heard this: "U.K. woman has been diagnosed with persistent genital arousal disorder after falling off her Wii Fit board and damaging a nerve, the Toronto Sun reported." PGAD has been gaining more visibility through television shows like "20/20" and "Grey’s Anatomy."


  1. Hi, my name is Johanna Vante and I suffer from PSAS for 6 years now. I run 2 PSAS-support groups in the Netherlands. I am in contact with PSAS-women from all over the world. Of which many are suicidal, or land on psychiatric wards, because of this horrible monster! A monster that totally ruins the lives of women who are really suffering from it.

    Allow me to explain a few things about this condition. First: Ever since the discovery of PSAS/PGAD in 2001, all kinds of outrageous stories about this condition have been buzzing around. Because the condition has a sexual connotation, causing it to appeal to the imagination of (mainly) men, the sensation orientated media has regrettably presented this syndrome out in a disgusting manner. Tall stories about women having 100 or even 800 orgasms per day, has spectacularly boosted tabloid or magazine sales . The truth about PSAS is a lot less sensational, much more complicated and it is NOT at all enjoyable or fun to those who really suffer from it. It is most definitely not characterized by having an inhumane number of (spontaneous) orgasms. Nonsense......utter nonsense!

    PSAS manifests as arousal that occurs apart from ANY of the physical or psychological stimuli that trigger normal sexual arousal. As its name suggests, the feeling is unrelenting. It fluctuates only in degree of intensity. Orgasm not only does not relieve the feeling, it actually exacerbates the sensation: after only a few moments or minutes of relief following orgasm, the sensation returns. PSAS is persistent, highly unwanted, involuntary, unrelated to subjective feelings of sexual desire, unrelated to hormones, unrelated to libido, is intrusive and causes distress, stress, isolation, insomnia, embarrassment, shame, anxiety, distraction, exhaustion, suicidal thoughts..... It interferes with work, marriage, relationships, social life No need to say that the impact is huge. Interest in sex declines as an orgasm doesn’t resolve anything and only makes the symptoms worse. A dilemma every single minute of the day AND night because the urge to relief yourself is almost unbearable but remains or in most cases only grows after orgasm. That part of our bodies is living its own life. There is no joy or pleasure what so ever in having sex!! Women have begged their doctors to amputate that part of their bodies. One woman did go for the surgical clitoridectomy!! After removal the symptoms didn’t subside.

    Women with PSAS do NOT crave for sex. On the contrary!! Involuntary living on the verge of an orgasm 24/7 is torture, is living hell!

    The condition has been renamed recently and is now called: Restless Genital Syndrome (ReGS) The words ‘Arousal’ and ‘Sexual’ in previous names suggest that it is a Sexual thing. A breakthrough in Scientific research in the Netherlands shows that the Nervus Dorsalis Clitoridis is responsible for the symptoms. It is hyperesthesia and neuropathy of that nerve that is driving women completely crazy.


    For more info visit:

  2. Thank you Johanna for your excellent explanation of what PGAD/ReGS is and isn't - I had suffered silently with this condition for almost 2 years before getting the correct diagnosis recently; my doctor's help and guidance freed me to tell my husband, mother, sister and best friend - all who've been extremely supportive, motivating me to speak out and seek out avenues towards alleviation of my symptoms. Not knowing what I had was greatly distressing - finding out it was PGAD/ReGS was almost as distressing when I realized I was dealing with a rare medical condition that is terribly misunderstood, incurable, and virtually unknown even within the medical community. No wonder it's considered rare - I bet there are thousands of women out there who are too afraid and embarrassed to tell anyone, especially when they see how we sufferers are cruelly depicted by many media outlets, such as TV shows that portray PGAD/ReGS as a godsend to unfulfilled women. I can't think of any other affliction that people think is OK to make fun of...this disorder has just about turned me from a happy, healthy, high-functioning person into the opposite of these things, and now that I know what I'm dealing with I'm determined to reach out for help in furthering understanding and a cure for all of us. Thanks again Johanna for your detailed description and thanks to CNN for not sensationalizing it.