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Persistent Genital Arousal Disorder

(Persistent Sexual Arousal Disorder)

By

Allison Conn

, MD, Baylor College of Medicine, Texas Children's Pavilion for Women;


Kelly R. Hodges

, MD, Baylor College of Medicine

Last full review/revision Mar 2021| Content last modified Mar 2021
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Persistent genital arousal disorder is excessive unwanted unprovoked genital arousal.

Persistent genital arousal disorder is a rare disorder; it is not included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) or the International Classification of Diseases, 10th edition (ICD-10).

The cause of persistent genital arousal disorder is unknown. It can be triggered by sexual or nonsexual activity or by no apparent stimulus. Anxiety and hypervigilance for recurrence of pain episodes may perpetuate the disorder. Symptoms are currently thought to result from pelvic muscle hypertonicity.

Unwanted, intrusive, spontaneous genital arousal (eg, tingling, throbbing) occurs, without any sexual desire or subjective arousal.. The sensations persist for hours or days and typically cause great distress and embarrassment.

Diagnosis of persistent genital arousal disorder is based on characteristic symptoms that cause marked distress.

Treatment of Persistent Genital Arousal Disorder

Treatment of persistent genital arousal disorder is unclear. Self-stimulation to orgasm may provide relief initially, but this treatment usually becomes less effective over time, and most women find this treatment distressing.

Pelvic floor physical therapy with biofeedback may help, especially when it is combined with mindfulness-based cognitive therapy. A high-dose of a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) has been reported effective, but data are few.

Simple recognition of the existence of this disorder, with reassurance that it can spontaneously remit, may help some women.

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