Persistent Genital Arousal Disorder

Most sexual complaints from females are around a lack/deficiency of sexual desire and arousal. But with Persistent Genital Arousal Disorder, there seems to be a constant feeling of arousal, in the absence of conscious sexual desire and despite genital stimulation and the experience of orgasm the feelings of arousal persist, sometimes for hours, days and sometimes for years.

Definition of Persistent Genital Arousal Disorder

Persistent Genital Arousal Disorder (PGAD)Persistent Genital Arousal Disorder was originally named Persistent Sexual Arousal Syndrome. It is defined as intrusive, unwanted, seemingly spontaneously occurring genital arousal/vasocongestion that occurs in the absence of any obvious sexual trigger or explicit sexual interest/desire and that persists for hours, days, or even weeks, despite one of several orgasms.



Women who complain about Persistent Genital Arousal Disorder seem to be quite diverse in presentation, in that they can be:

  • old or young
  • married or single
  • heterosexual or homosexual
  • pre-/peri-/postmenopausal

Contributing Factors of Persistent Genital Arousal Disorder

Although women with Persistent Genital Arousal Disorder may not know for certain, many women have hypothesized as to what the original cause was of their sensations.

Some women have attributed the onset of persistent genital arousal disorder to:

  • The initiation, increase or discontinuation of a particular medication, such as:
    Hormone Replacement Therapies
  • Various surgical procedures
  • Having done an activity that place insistent pressure on their genitals, such as cycling.
  • Past sexual abuse/Sexual excess

Consequences of Persistent Genital Arousal Disorder

Presenting Complaints in women with Persistent Genital Arousal Disorder are:

  1. Physiological responses characteristic of sexual desire that persist for an extended period of time (hours/days)
  2. Physiological arousal responses do not disappear after ordinary orgasms
  3. These physiological arousal responses are usual experienced without any perceived sense of sexual desire
  4. The persistent sexual arousal may be triggered by a nonsexual stimulus
  5. The physiological arousal responses are experienced as unwanted and intrusive
  6. The experience of intense spontaneous orgasms that occur without any deliberate stimulation, which can be very disturbing

Treatment of Persistent Genital Arousal Disorder

The majority of women who experience Persistent Genital Arousal Disorder suffer considerably and hence are vulnerable to any treatment that promises relief. Regrettably, although many treatments have been described and discussed by women in a PSAS support group, none have provided long-lasting relief.

A sensible approach to treatment is really one that emphasizes self-management along with an initial use of anesthetizing agents to numb the area and relaxation of pelvic floor musculature.

Some treatment suggestions may be:

Social Support:

Women complaining of Persistent Genital Arousal might experience relief when they realize they are not alone and that their condition has a name. There is a support group that exists, which may be able to provide sympathy and suggestions. Please go to

Pelvic Massage:

Pelvic massage or stretching excises may reduce or eliminate pelvic floor tension. Consultation with an experienced pelvic specialist may be useful


Certain medications may alleviate feelings on genital tension. Additionally mood stabilizers may be helpful. Please consult your doctor or specialist for appropriate medical advice.

Sex Therapy/Counselling:

Cognitive behavioral interventions may be recommended for women with Persistent Genital Arousal Disorder.

Sexual Health Australia is a confidential counselling service, specialised in sexual health and relationship issues. We have experienced sex therapists and relationship counsellors who offer counselling and support for women with Persistent Sexual Arousal Disorder and their partners.

We offer individual and/or couple's counselling. Face to face counselling is offered in Sydney CBD and phone counselling is offered nationally. 

Sex therapy/counselling for Persistent Genital Arousal Disorder may include some of the following:

  • Addressing Self-defeating, self-blaming or pessimistic thought
  • Cognitive-behavioural interventions
  • Enhance Coping Behaviours
  • Anxiety reduction techniques

If you wish to make an appointment with one of our friendly counsellors or require further information, please don't hesitate to contact us at:

For more information about our counselling sessions/appointment fees, please click here.

Reference: Leiblum, S. R. (2007), Principles and Practice of Sex Therapy, New York, the Guildford Press.


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