Sandra John | January 31, 2013
'I have a very rare medical condition; whenever I sneeze I have an orgasm.'
A man and a woman were sitting beside each other in the first class section of an aircraft. The woman sneezed, took out a tissue, gently wiped her nose then visibly shuddered for 10 to 15 seconds. The man went back to his reading.
A few minutes later, the woman sneezed again, took a tissue, wiped her nose, and then shuddered violently once more. Assuming that the woman might have a cold, the man was still curious about the shuddering.
A few more minutes passed when the woman sneezed yet again. As before, she took a tissue, wiped her nose, her body shaking even more than before.
Unable to restrain his curiosity, the man turned to the woman and said, “I couldn’t help but notice you’ve sneezed three times, wiped your nose and then shuddered violently. Are you OK?”
“I am sorry if I disturbed you, I have a very rare medical condition; whenever I sneeze I have an orgasm.” The man, more than a bit embarrassed, was still curious. “I have never heard of that condition before,” he said. “Are you taking anything for it?” The woman nodded, “Pepper.”
This joke might have got you in stitches but not so for the small number of women who actually suffer from persistent sexual arousal syndrome or Persistent Genital Arousal Disorder (PGAD).
As it turns out, far from being blessed with a succession of divine orgasms of mega proportions, sufferers of PGAD are very deeply traumatised by the condition.
A curse, not blessing
In December last year, Gretchen Molannen, 39 from Tampa Bay, Florida committed suicide. A long-time sufferer of the disorder, Gretchen had tried killing herself three other times that year.
One other sufferer is Rachel from Atlanta. Featured in the documentary ‘100 Orgasms A Day’ in the UK last year, Rachel experiences organisms every 30 seconds for up to eight hours a day. Leaving her exhausted and irritable, Rachel cannot even touch her washing machine when its on spin cycle for fear the vibrations will trigger another round of explosive orgasms.
In the documentary she relates how even when driving she feels a persistent throbbing in her genitals that demands she stop the car in search of a bathroom so she “can take care of it”. Emerging later, she looks calmer, even smiling as she says, “I’m good to go now!”
New to medical science
Dr David Goldmeier, an expert on sexual medicine at the Imperial College in London says the disorder in only newly recognised. Patients typically complain of long periods of genital arousal not associated with sexual desire. It is a distressing condition and plays havoc on a woman’s ability to lead a normal, every day existence.
While research is only now gaining momentum, some doctors believe PGAD is caused by malfunctioning nerves. Dr. Michael Hibner, a gynecological surgeon in Arizona says the disorder develops when the pudendal nerve is compressed or irritated, causing the clitoral dorsal nerve to fire off at random. When this occurs, the sufferer experiences an approaching orgasm.
While the medical fraternity scrambles to learn more of this disorder, the women afflicted by it live in a state of constant distress. Many suffer from depression, are unable to hold down jobs, have troubled relationships with their partners and often feel self-doubt and self-hatred, thinking they are sex addicts with a ‘dirty’ disease. Kim Ramsey, 44, an emergency room nurse was the envy of her friends who all joked they wished they had multiple orgasms too. However life was far from ideal for Kim. Feeling like she was on the verge of a nervous breakdown, Kim struggled to maintain her grip on reality. “I felt flushed. My vagina and breasts were engorged,” she says and it was tough keeping people from finding out.
Coping with PGAD
Some doctors recommend meditation and pelvic floor exercises to cope and until more concrete medical findings and subsequent cures surface, most sufferers of PGAD haven’t much else to fall back on.