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Genital sensations in persistent genital arousal disorder: a case for an overarching nosology of genitopelvic dysesthesias?

Pukall, Caroline F., Jackowich, Robyn ORCID:, Mooney, Kayla and Chamberlain, Susan M. 2019. Genital sensations in persistent genital arousal disorder: a case for an overarching nosology of genitopelvic dysesthesias? Sexual Medicine Reviews 7 (1) , pp. 2-12. 10.1016/j.sxmr.2018.08.001

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Introduction Persistent genital arousal disorder (PGAD) is a highly distressing and poorly understood condition characterized by unwanted sensations of genital arousal in the absence of subjective sexual desire. Research has shown that some individuals with PGAD also report orgasm, urinary, and pain symptoms, with 1 recent study specifically comparing a “painful persistent genital arousal symptom” group to a “non-painful persistent genital arousal symptom” group on various indicators given the highly frequent report of comorbid genitopelvic pain in their sample. Aim To review literature on PGAD focusing on the presence of pain symptoms. Methods A literature review through May 2018 was undertaken to identify articles that discuss pain characteristics in individuals with persistent sexual arousal syndrome, persistent genital arousal disorder, symptoms of persistent genital arousal, and restless genital syndrome. Main Outcome Measure A review of pain/discomfort associated with persistent genital arousal, and the proposal of a new theoretical framework of genitopelvic dysesthesias. Results PGAD is a distressing condition that is associated with a significant, negative impacts on psychosocial and daily functioning. Although it is clear that unwanted and persistent genital arousal is the hallmark symptom of PGAD, symptoms of pain and discomfort are also frequently reported. Based on the results of this review, a model of genitopelvic dysesthesias is proposed, with subcategories of unpleasant sensations that are based on patients' primary complaint: arousal, arousal and pain, or pain (and other sensations). Conclusion The proposed model can provide an important framework for conceptualizing conditions characterized by unpleasant genitopelvic sensations. A model such as this one can benefit highly misunderstood conditions that are questioned in terms of their legitimacy and severity—such as PGAD—by conceptualizing them as sensory disorders, which in turn can reduce stigma, unify research efforts, and potentially improve access to care.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Psychology
Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISSN: 2050-0521
Date of Acceptance: 5 August 2018
Last Modified: 12 Sep 2023 12:03

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