Persistent genital arousal disorder

Signs of Persistent Genital Arousal Disorder (PGAD)

In this post, we’re going to discuss Persistent Genital Arousal Disorder or PGAD; we’ll look at symptoms, possible causes, as well as possible treatment options.

But firstly, this is a safe space! Talking about sex, sexual health, or sexual pleasure is always accepted and welcome here. It is a topic nobody should ever have to feel ashamed of! Sexual pleasure, sexual activities, and masturbation are all completely human, acceptable topics or feelings; and should be celebrated in our society, rather than discouraged. It’s personal health, after all!

However, there are times when sexual arousal can be disruptive to a person’s daily life, such as in the case of PGAD, where it may occur too often, for too long, or during unwanted or unexpected moments. If you experience or notice symptoms of Persistent Genital Arousal Disorder, you should visit a doctor to receive a proper diagnosis.


What are the symptoms of Persistent Genital Arousal Disorder? What is PGAD? Persistent Genital Arousal Disorder is when a person feels sexually aroused without sexual activity or stimulation; and experiences the sensation for long periods of time. This is not to be confused with hypersexuality; because Persistent Genital Arousal Disorder can occur without a single thought or intention of sexual activity.

This can last for hours, days, or weeks at a time, and is accompanied by the swelling of the vagina and area or organs around the vagina; or erection of the penis. For people with a penis, this is often referred to as Priapism, when an erection lasts for a long period of time; sometimes several hours.

The uncomfortable sensations felt in the genital area are often experienced without sexual desire and are described as:

  • Wetness

  • Pressure

  • Itching

  • Pounding

  • Burning

  • Pins and needles

It is a rare condition that most commonly affects people with vaginas, and is sometimes called restless genital syndrome. This disorder can also cause orgasms that don’t always relieve the arousal sensations, or pain felt in the genital area.

Other symptoms include muscle spasms in other parts of the body, high heart rate or blood pressure, a flushed face, rapid breathing, and spotty or blurry vision.

In addition to the physical symptoms of Persistent Genital Arousal Disorder, this disorder can cause other issues. It may cause frustration, inability to focus, strain in relationships, depression, and anxiety.

Many people may feel embarrassed by this disorder, and often opt to not speak with a professional because of their embarrassment. However, personal health and sexual health are of extreme importance, and you should never have to feel ashamed of such topics. By choosing to speak with a professional, you help the community by furthering the research and awareness of PGAD. And, receiving treatment may help you better manage your symptoms and therefore improve your quality of living!


A specific cause of Persistent Genital Arousal Disorder is difficult to identify, but there are a few possible causes:

  • Improper blood flow in the penis

  • Genital infections or UTI

  • Hormonal changes

  • Side effect of medication

  • Other pelvic issues

  • Stress

  • Possible nerve complications

  • Complications in Vasectomy procedures

  • Tarlov cysts

  • Other

“Other” is listed due to every individual being different, having different bodies, taking different medications, different surgical histories, etc. This is why proper diagnosis is important because the cause differs by the individual. And, getting a diagnosis that confirms you have a condition may give you some relief towards understanding yourself and your symptoms better.


During diagnosis, a doctor will discuss your symptoms with you, as well as your medical history and surgical history. They may check your hormone levels, and possibly test for neurological issues using an EEG, CT scan, or MRI. They will likely conduct tests on the blood flow of your genital area before and after arousal. They may also refer you for psychological assessment or therapy if necessary.


As mentioned before, everyone is different and may have different causes or symptoms of Persistent Genital Arousal Disorder; and therefore may have different treatment options. Some treatment options include:

  • Physical therapy

  • Topical numbing medications

  • Pain medications

  • Muscle relaxers

  • Anti-seizure medications

  • Acupressure

  • Biofeedback

  • Psychological therapy

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)

  • Electrical nerve stimulation

  • Electroconvulsive therapy

  • Ice or ice bath

As a quick note, it may appear at first glance as though masturbation may relieve the symptoms of Persistent Genital Arousal Disorder; for a short time. And although masturbation is another activity we would never discourage in this community, it is important to understand that in regards to PGAD, it may give a false sense of hope. You should not turn to a reliance on masturbation instead of a diagnosis or professionally recommended treatment. Even after an orgasm, symptoms may likely return, and frequent masturbation may cause PGAD to last longer or become worse. And, the sensation of the orgasm may begin to be unenjoyable, due to the climax being a relief from pain, rather than enjoyment. Therefore, in order not to ruin sexual pleasure or activities such as masturbation for the individual, it is recommended to seek a diagnosis as soon as you notice symptoms of Persistent Genital Arousal Disorder.


Depending on your personal diagnosis and needs, physical therapy may be beneficial to help manage the symptoms of Persistent Genital Arousal Disorder. The pelvic floor area plays a big role in many different activities, including sexual activities. In some cases, the pelvic floor muscles may need strengthening, help with relaxation or massage therapy. Pelvic floor physical therapy can also help you understand and become more comfortable with your body.

One last very important thing: although this case may be rare, you are not alone in this! You do not have to feel alone or ashamed of your body, or what you are dealing with. Everyone has the right to a healthy body and mind, and that includes sexual health and pleasure.

Want to consult with Dr. Laura Meihofer? Book a FREE 20-minute consultation HERE.

P.S. Head over to Instagram and let’s connect in the DMs! I’m always here for you if you have any questions about Persistent Genital Arousal Disorder, or if you just need a hype woman in your own personal health journey!

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