Persistent Genital Arousal Disorder: More Serious Than You Think
Persistent Genital Arousal Disorder (PGAD) is something that Traci Braxton, family member of the famed Braxton clan with standout stars Tamar and Toni Braxton as sister. In an episode of their hit reality TV show, Traci said that she suffered from the condition.
Kim Ramsey knows it well too. Ms. Ramsey suffers from the disorder that gives her continuous orgasms that are oftentimes unwarranted and painful. She first had problems with continuous orgasms after having sex with a new boyfriend in 2008. “I had constant orgasms for four days. I thought I was going mad. It also happened with a new partner and I even tried sitting on frozen peas.” Doctors believe the incurable syndrome was caused by an accident in 2001 when she fell down some stairs.
Ramsey shares that as soon as her story became public, she was misunderstood and sometimes even ridiculed or made fun of, when the condition itself is very serious. The symptoms for every woman with PGAD vary, but the predominant factor is pain. “Yes, it’s painful,” Ramsey admits. “Many people get caught up on the sexual aspect as it is sensational and catches peoples’ interest. Nobody wants to read about pain. But everyone wants to hear about orgasms. So generally the public and medical professionals are misinformed about the condition because they are not getting the information and then they fill in the blanks with their own personal experiences.”
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The sexual response cycle refers to the sequence of physical and emotional changes that occur as a person becomes sexually aroused and participates in sexually stimulating activities, including intercourse and masturbation. Knowing how your body responds during each phase of the cycle can enhance your relationship and help you pinpoint the cause of any sexual problems.
The sexual response cycle has four phases: Excitement, Plateau, Orgasm and Resolution. Both men and women experience these phases, although the timing usually is different.
Phase 1: Excitement
General characteristics of the excitement phase, which can last from a few minutes to several hours, include the following:
Muscle tension increases. Heart rate quickens and breathing is accelerated. Skin may become flushed (blotches of redness appear on the chest and back). Nipples become hardened or erect. Blood flow to the genitals increases, resulting in swelling of the woman’s clitoris and labia minora (inner lips), and erection of the man’s penis. Vaginal lubrication begins. The woman’s breasts become fuller and the vaginal walls begin to swell. The man’s testicles swell, his scrotum tightens, and he begins secreting a lubricating liquid.
Phase 2: Plateau
General characteristics of the plateau phase, which extends to the brink of orgasm, include the following:
The changes begun in phase 1 are intensified. The vagina continues to swell from increased blood flow, and the vaginal walls turn a dark purple. The woman’s clitoris becomes highly sensitive (may even be painful to touch) and retracts under the clitoral hood to avoid direct stimulation from the penis. The man’s testicles are withdrawn up into the scrotum. Breathing, heart rate, and blood pressure continue to increase.
Phase 3: Orgasm
The orgasm is the climax of the sexual response cycle. It is the shortest of the phases and generally lasts only a few seconds. General characteristics of this phase include the following:
Involuntary muscle contractions begin. Blood pressure, heart rate, and breathing are at their highest rates, with a rapid intake of oxygen. Muscles in the feet spasm. There is a sudden, forceful release of sexual tension. In women, the muscles of the vagina contract. The uterus also undergoes rhythmic contractions. In men, rhythmic contractions of the muscles at the base of the penis result in the ejaculation of semen.
Phase 4: Resolution
During resolution, the body slowly returns to its normal level of functioning, and swelled and erect body parts return to their previous size and color. This phase is marked by a general sense of well-being, enhanced intimacy and, often, fatigue. Some women are capable of a rapid return to the orgasm phase with further sexual stimulation and may experience multiple orgasms. Men need recovery time after orgasm, called a refractory period, during which they cannot reach orgasm again. The duration of the refractory period varies among men and usually lengthens with advancing age.
“To any man or woman who has PGAD. Your life is not over,” explains Ramsey. “It’s just beginning. Life can be manageable. Learn to manage their reaction to their symptoms. Find a doctor that is willing to listen to how you wish to be treated. Seek out someone who is going to look at your individual circumstances, and not give you a generalized treatment modality, and then charge you exorbitant fees for the privilege. Find someone to help you find out how your PGAD is caused, get blood work, radiology test to see if there is a structural defect in your anatomy or MRI to see if there is a Tarlov cysts in spine.
Get a support system that can understand what’s happening to you without judging you. Find a procedure, or be medicated, that is suitable for your symptoms. There are many ways to handle the symptoms. If you go the route of no medications or medical/surgical procedures, then emotional freedom tapping, mindful meditation will help to reduce a lot of the anxiety, stress, pain that comes with this disorder. Life does get better.”
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