…Maria, 61-year-old widow laments
By Sola Ogundipe
A mother-of-three who has a condition which leaves her constantly on the edge of an orgasm says it has ruined her life.
Maria, from East Dunbartonshire in Scotland, said the condition known as Persistent Genital Arousal Disorder (PGAD) has made her fed up with life and a ‘recluse’, began in 2017.
It feels like ‘sitting on an ant’s nest’ most of the time, Maria said
And her arousal is purely physical and doesn’t have anything sexual about it.
Maria, who did not want her face to be pictured, said the condition has wrecked her life and claims it began after a rough gynaecological examination in 2017.
The condition which was caused by nerve damage between the vagina and anus, has baffled doctors who said they couldn’t treat her for it.
But 61-year-old Maria says she feels like she is ‘sitting on an ants’ nest’ most of the time but there’s nothing sexual about the misunderstood condition.
She believes it was triggered by a rough gynaecological exam by a doctor two years ago.
‘I just didn’t know what was happening, You’ve got this great arousal but it’s not going anywhere or triggered by anything.
‘Most of the time I feel like I am sitting on an ant’s nest. There are times where it’s a tickle all day, but then something sets it off and it’s a full-blown orgasm.’
It’s not known how many people suffer from PGAD but scientists have in the past suggested it could be as many as one per cent of women.
Maria, who is a widow, said doctors told her her condition developed because of damage to her pudendal nerve, which runs through the perineum.
The constant state of physical – but not mental – arousal has taken its toll on her.
Activities as mundane as driving over a pothole, aeroplane turbulence or riding on an escalator could be enough to tip her over the edge and trigger an orgasm.
Music, peculiarly, can also trigger it. Maria said she has had orgasms from the vibrations caused by playing the violin, and at a Shania Twain concert.
‘I don’t know how many women could say they went to a Shania Twain concert and that made them reach orgasm,’ she said.
‘Ninety per cent of my life has been wrecked and the other 10 per cent is not so great either. I had to give up volunteering because just moving can set it off.
Persistent genital arousal disorder (PGAD) is a condition in which someone cannot control their physical sexual arousal and has orgasms at random.
The condition is not sexual or linked to desire and can be debilitating and painful for those who suffer from it.
Doctors don’t know how many people have the condition, but it is believed to be significantly more common among women and is estimated to affect as many as one per cent of females.
Signs of the condition may include wetness in the vagina, itching, the feeling of pressure, burning, pounding, or pins and needles.
Some describe it as feeling congested.
PGAD’s causes aren’t well understood but it could be triggered by stress, certain medications, nerve damage or certain types of cysts called Tarlov cysts.
Treatment may involve behavioural therapy, painkillers or in some cases medication, but the condition is not curable.
‘One of my friends said to me I’d become a recluse.’ Maria’s condition developed after a smear test in September 2017.
She said the doctor ‘rammed’ a speculum – an examination tool – into her vagina during the exam.
And the next month she began experiencing symptoms for the first time, which would eventually be diagnosed as PGAD.
She has tried numbing gels, pelvic floor physiotherapy and steroid injections directly into her clitoris, but none of them have worked.
Maria could have Botox injected as a treatment – the chemical paralyses muscles – but she is afraid it could make her incontinent.
‘To think that this damage was caused by a consultant’s incompetence and then you have incontinence as a result of things you do to try to cure the damage is just ludicrous,’ she said. ‘It’s shocking.’
The NHS has disputed Maria’s claim the damage was caused by the smear test.
It has refused to refer her abroad for treatment, instead sending her to London where there are specialist doctors.
Maria, who was formerly the chair of a reproductive charity in the 1990s, said women who suffer from the condition ‘should know they are not freaks. ‘People shouldn’t have to go through this and be ridiculed. It’s far from funny. This has broken up marriages.
‘Some women have taken their own lives. It saps your confidence because, to be honest, there are days I wish I wasn’t here.’