Persistent Sexual Arousal Syndrome (PSAS)
Persistent Sexual Arousal Syndrome (PSAS), also known as Persistent Genital Arousal Disorder (PGAD), is a condition in which women experience a constant feeling of being sexually aroused and are unable to release it. The arousal is unrelated to any erotic thoughts or any feelings of sexual desire. The feeling can be very intense and persist for days or even weeks. Orgasm may release it temporarily but the feeling comes right back. It can be terribly debilitating and is often accompanied by depression or feelings of distress. The condition most often strikes post-menopausal women, or women who have recently started or discontinued antidepressants, but it can happen to anyone.
It is not quite clear what causes Persistent Sexual Arousal Syndrome, although studies have shown that it may be related to neurological, vascular, physical, pharmacological or psychological conditions. The physiology of the condition is similar to that of Restless Leg Syndrome.
PSAS/PGAD is just beginning to be studied and the treatments are therefore still being explored and developed. However, in our work with women we focus on three areas:
- Medications: Managing the medications a woman is on and exploring the potential links between onset of the condition and use of a particular medication. Additionally, we will sometimes prescribe medications to help alleviate symptoms.
- Lifestyle management: We work with patients to identify the day to day activities which might trigger an episode, or to develop techniques to minimize discomfort.
- Alternative therapies: We will work with TENS units or refer for nerve blocks if we feel it necessary.
- Psychotherapy: We will work with you to help manage the secondary impact of the condition. We know how debilitating this condition can be and we understand that sometimes the condition can cause panic and dysfunction in other areas of your life. We’re here to lend support and help in an effort to help you to manage and contain the problem as much as possible.
Women who have PSAS are sometimes reluctant to talk about it because they may be embarrassed about their sexual arousal disorder. Often doctors will respond insensitively: “Shouldn’t everyone have that problem?” or “ You must have some unresolved psychological conflicts.” Women are embarrassed to tell their friends for fear they will be seen as “freaks” or “crazy.” Please know that unremitting sexual arousal has been identified by medical experts as a disorder. If you are a woman who suffers from it you should know that you are not alone and you can get help. Knowing that it isn’t “all in your head” or something “you can be thankful for” will help you on your way to dealing with this condition.
We may not be able to solve the problem for you entirely but in almost every case we can “lighten the load” and treatments make life much more bearable.