Orgasms are amazing. They leave you feeling relaxed, satisfied, and ready for the next one. But, what if you could not control when the next one would come? What if they came without any provocation or during any activity? How would you handle this strange activity of your body?
Men and women with Persistent Genital Arousal Disorder (PGAD), otherwise known as Restless Genitalia Syndrome (RGS), suffer from orgasms that happen randomly and often. This is a very real and rare condition that affects men even less than it affects women.
Many, including the media, do not take this condition seriously, though it causes an increased risk of suicide.
Many men who have PGAD feel alone, isolated, and fed up with their bodies.
All they want to do is stop having orgasms. That may be a concept you find hard to grasp.
IT BEGAN WHEN HE WAS 18
One man recounts his story with PGAD. Now, 28 years of age, his harrowing life with this disorder began when he was 18. He began experiencing persistent sexual arousal without sexual thoughts present and, sometimes, without an erection.
Eventually, the feeling grew so strong that he began masturbating 10 times a day to get relief. His penis would grow raw with the constant stimulation and he would be unable to write with his dominant hand, but relief would only last for a few moments. When he did not masturbate quickly enough, the sensation would morph into an agonizing pain that demanded release.
While this just sounds like someone who has a very high libido or like someone who is taking a male enhancement supplement such as Malegenix, it is vastly different. His arousal could be triggered by the most mundane triggers including sitting for long periods of time, standing while riding the bus, or even lifting heavy items. Any pressure on his pelvic area and he became a mass of arousal that needed to be released. After some time, he would spend a great deal of time lying down in order to reduce flare-ups. The pain, combined with the stress of being unable to do just about everything led to a deep depression.
It has been 10 years and still, he has the constant need to relieve sexual arousal. He says that most of his life is filled with “painful white noise” and he only gets “short periods of peace”. His constant state of arousal has taken over his thoughts and life.
PGAD or RGS causes intense sexual arousal without any stimulus and can cause symptoms such as burning, pins-and-needles, and itching. It targets the penis’s head and women’s vagina, clitoris, and vulva, leaving these sufferers with constant or flare-ups of discomfort for longer periods of time. Even with orgasm, the sensation returns almost immediately, leaving those with this condition in a constant state of misery.
While this condition was only recognized in 2001, it is quite common even though few people know about it, states Dr. Irwin Goldstein, who sees a couple of PGAD sufferers each week in his work as a sexual health physician. Currently, there are a couple thousand sufferers throughout the world.
THEORIES OF PGAD
There are many theories surrounding this condition. Some physicians think it may be related to Tourette’s Syndrome or epilepsy, and for some people, it happens alongside Restless Leg Syndrome and/or overactive bladder.
A Professor of Psychology, Christopher French, who studies paranormal events at Goldsmiths University, believes PGAD may explain “ghost sex”, which has been reported by people who believe they may have had sexual relations with demons or spirits.
According to French, most cases of sexual relations with ghosts may be explained by sleep paralysis as they occur, often, during the night. While he acknowledges this, there are cases of random orgasm that have occurred when the person is awake.
THE NOT-SO-HAPPY SIDE OF PGAD
While the media, and some physicians, may poke fun at this condition or marvel at the benefits of having orgasms throughout the day, for those who suffer from it they experience severe psychological and physical distress. Often, they become functionally disabled and are unable to sustain relationships, employment, or a pleasant quality of life. Many who have PGAD may become suicidal and depressed.
While much of the literature is about women, for men, these spontaneous orgasms can be a lot more nerve-wracking. While a woman may experience tense muscles and facial grimacing, a man may ejaculate in any setting.
For men, talking about an issue with their penis may be a large blow to their masculinity, as much of men’s masculine nature is tied into their penis and its functionality. This may lead to many men not seeking help from their physicians.
TREATMENT FOR PGAD
There are treatments to manage PGAD which include therapy and a variety of prescriptions that may target many different conditions such as nerve pain, seizures, and mood disorders. There are now online support groups so sufferers can build a community where they feel understood and know they are not alone.
As many people with PGAD have herniated discs or cysts present in their backs, scientists, Irwin Goldstein and Barry Komisaruk have hypothesized these conditions may lead to irritation of nerves that are connected to the genitalia or legs. A possible, permanent solution to PGAD is a spinal surgery that will find these irritations and remove them. Goldstein and Komisaruk have reported they have successfully alleviated PGAD from 33 women and men, but their research is unpublished and will, most likely, not be widely accepted for a decade or more.
While this spinal surgery may prove effective for many with PGAD, it may not relieve the suffering of all, as the information on this condition is so limited.
Visibility, knowledge, patience, and understanding are paramount when interacting with someone with PGAD. They need to be heard and taken seriously as this condition is not a laughing matter.
If you know someone who is displaying these symptoms or has confided they suffer from this condition, please listen without judgment and let them know you are there for them.