Rachel, an Atlanta, Ga. housewife, is very, very careful when she does her laundry. The mother of three experiences continuous, unwanted orgasms — sometimes for several hours a day — which can be caused by the most mundane of tasks, like the wash.
“When it goes on the spin cycle, I don’t even like to touch it,” Rachel said in a Discovery documentary about the condition. “The vibrations can… trigger an episode.”
Rachel suffers from a rare and relatively new condition known as persistent sexual arousal syndrome, or persistent genital arousal disorder (PGAD). As she explains in the film, “100 Orgasms A Day“, controlling her body’s push toward arousal requires around-the-clock effort.
“If I wasn’t controlling it, I don’t even know if I could put a number on it. It would be in the hundreds,” she said. ‘If I had no self-control, no willpower, I don’t know that I would ever leave the house.”
According to Psychology Today, PGAD occurs when a woman’s genitals are physically aroused for hours, days, weeks or longer, but the woman doesn’t feel any desire to have sex. The word “distress” is often used to describe a woman’s reaction to PGAD.
While Rachel is able to control some of her symptoms, others who have been diagnosed with the condition are not so lucky. For these women, the disorder is anything but pleasurable.
Kim Ramsey, 44, is a New Jersey nurse who went public with her condition in August. Ramsey told the Sun that her orgasms, which can be triggered by riding trains or driving, leave her in pain and exhausted. “Other women wonder how to have an orgasm — I wonder how to stop mine,” Ramsey said.
In Ramsey’s case, doctors blamed the incurable condition on spinal cysts that developed 10 years ago after a bad fall.
A Dutch study published in 2009 attempted to demystify some of the aspects of the condition, which was first documented a decade ago by sex therapist Sandra Leiblum. The study’s leaders themselves said more research needed to be done to full understand the causes and develop a possible course of treatment.
Relief can’t come quickly enough for Heather Dearmon, 33, who told MSNBC.com that at times her PGAD was so bad she contemplated suicide.
“It got to the point where morning, afternoon and night I had to take care of it,” Dearmon said. “My whole life was being robbed from me.”
Overall, there have been close to 30 studies on the disorder worldwide, according to Boston.com. Some women have reportedly found relief through experimental treatments including shock therapy, physical therapy and drugs like the anti-anxiety medication duloxetine.
Dearmon has since experienced some improvement after a doctor prescribed Paxil. But the effects of anti-anxiety medication only last so long, and after a few days the arousal, focused on her clitoris, becomes severe once more.