PGAD: Multiple orgasms that can cause depression and suicide

PGAD is a condition that causes teens to giggle and adults to pause for thought. It is no laughing matter. Photo: Facebook/Depression

WASHINGTON, July 31, 2013 ― Persistent Genital Arousal Disorder (PGAD) can be an extremely debilitating, life-controlling syndrome that not only interferes with daily life, but can cause clinical depression, thoughts of suicide and in one unfortunate celebrated case, suicide.

PGAD is rare disorder that gained international attention after 39 year old Gretchen Molannen of Florida committed suicide because PGAD overwhelmed her.

Gynecologist and founder of the Pennsylvania Institute for Women in Pain, Dr. Robert Echenberg, claims he has seen at least seven suicide attempts among his 125 patients in one year with one Dutch woman succeeding in her attempt.

Many in the medical and psychological fields associate this disorder with psychosomatic source. However, new research and studies clearly identify this disorder as somatic or physical and not a psychological sexual disorder in most cases.

Arizona gynecological surgeon Dr. Michael Hibner suggests PGAD occurs when the pudendal nerve is compressed, irritated or stimulated, resulting in the clitoral dorsal nerve to randomly fire off signals resulting in the overwhelming urge for relief by the production of a reported 20 to 100 climaxes’ daily.

The pudendal nerve is located in the pelvic region and carries sensory, somatic and sympathetic motor fibers to the external genitalia in both men and women. Males can also suffer a similar syndrome. A condition called pudendal nerve entrapment has a chronically painful or numbing affect in the same region so focus on this nerve and associated clusters is not new.

New Dutch research equivocates PGAD with Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) as a nerve disorder in the limbic system in the brain that affects the genital nervous system in the same fashion as RLS affects victim’s legs. Anyone suffering from RLS understands the relentless pursuit of relief from unwanted nerve signals. Both conditions seem exacerbated by simply sitting down.

According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), PGAD can be traced to a myriad of problems including pharmacologic, psychological, neurological and vascular issues. In most cases, cognitive therapy does help to understand and identify the mental aspect of PGAD as some cases are associated with a comorbidity or associated psychological disorder. However, new studies indicate most cases of PGAD are, arguably, not directly related to a psychological malfunction.  

Some women have resorted to pudendal nerve blocks to seek temporary relief and some medications seem to help to bring this syndrome under control.  Discontinuing some medications may also bring about lesser symptoms.

Many victims of PGAD feel shame, loss of self-control, socially uneasy and in many cases, depressed with suicidal thoughts. The shame surrounding the issue raises suspicion that many more women suffer from PGAD than indicated by casual inquiry or self-reporting.

If you or anyone you know suffers from PGAD, advances in treatment, new studies and research are underway and an informed gynecologist can help. While a visit to a psychologist will not result in being told to “Think of car accidents or baseball,” you can learn to understand this syndrome and learn of mental exercises that reduce sensation and uncontrollable urges.


Paul Mountjoy is a Virginia based writer and a member of the American Psychological Association and the Association for Psychological Science.



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