It might seem like having continuous, spontaneous orgasms throughout the day would be fun, but to those with persistant genital arousal disorder (PGAD) it’s hellish. For sufferers, continual arousal means, “Being on the edge of an orgasm 24 hours a day, to the point where you can’t sleep, you can’t function, you can’t even think straight – that’s not fun.” It can destroy their deliberate sex lives, since having intercourse may exacerbate their discomfort. PGAD is a particularly disruptive but rare sexual dysfunction.
According to the DSM-5, sexual dysfunctions are a varying group of disorders which have in common a “disturbance in a person’s ability to respond sexually or to experience sexual pleasure.” While causes of sexual dysfunctions might sometimes be physical, sexual experience is profoundly connected with one’s psychological wellbeing. Like other drives, if one’s sex drive is hyperactive, hypoactive or in other ways malfunctioning, this can upset a person’s love life and other areas of her life.
Overview of sexual dysfunctions:
Sexual desire disorders: In hypoactive sexual desire disorder, a person may have little to no interest in sexual activity. There is a decrease in one’s baseline drive to masturbate, sexually fantasize or have intercourse. Treatment includes exposure to erotic material and cognitive behavior therapy (CBT). In sexual aversion disorder, a person also has little interest in sex, but she is even fearful, panicked or disgusted at the thought of sex. These individuals may benefit from CBT or other psychological interventions.
Sexual arousal disorders: These disorders can be really frustrating to people, because while these individuals desire to be aroused they have difficulty being aroused. This unfulfilled desire causes suffering. In male erectile disorder, a male persistently has trouble attaining or maintaining an erection for the time that he or his partner(s) would like. Treatment may include CBT and, if necessary, viagra or other biological interventions. In female sexual arousal disorder, a female has trouble achieving or maintaining sufficient vaginal lubrication.
Orgasm disorders: In male or female orgasmic disorder (also inhibited orgasm disorder), a person will either not orgasm after sufficient sexual arousal or will take longer to orgasm than she would like after sexual arousal. This is apparently a rare disorder in men but a common complaint of women. Those with female orgasm disorder may consider maturbatory training. If a male has premature ejaculation disorder, during sexual encounters he consistently ejaculates before he or his partner(s) wishes. It is the most common male sexual dysfunction. It is most common in young, inexperienced males. Treatment options include sexual education and the “squeeze technique.”
Subcategories of sexual dysfunctions:
Lifelong: A sexual dysfunction that occurs throughout a person’s sexual life.
Acquired: A sexual dysfunction begins after a person has had a typical sexual life.
Generalized: A sexual dysfunction occurs most or every time a person engages in sexual activity.
Situational: A sexual dysfunction occurs at certain times, in certain environments or with certain people.
Possible causes of sexual dysfunctions: Biological causes include physical disease, such as obesity, dementia or cancer, or side effects of medications (e.g. antidepressants). Psychological causes may be performance anxiety or mental illness. Social causes include prior traumatic experiences, such as rape, and lack of intimacy between partners.
References Barlow and Durand (2011). Abnormal Psychology: An Integrated Approach, 6th edition. Belmont, CA;Wadsworth.