Psychological, Medical, and Pharmacological Correlates of Persistent Genital Arousal Disorder


Sandra Leiblum, PhD, UNDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School—Psychiatry, 675 Hoes Lane Piscataway, NJ 08854, USA. Tel: (732) 235-4273; Fax: (732) 235-4244; E-mail:


Introduction.  Little is known about the etiology or medical/psychological correlates of persistent genital arousal disorder (PGAD).

Aim.  The aims of this article were (i) to replicate the findings of earlier research identifying two subtypes of women with persistent arousal—those who meet all features of the condition and are at least moderately distressed, and those who meet only some features and are less distressed; and (ii) to identify the medical, psychological and/or pharmacological correlates of the condition.

Method.  A comprehensive web-based survey of persistent genital arousal (PGA) was posted on several Internet websites. Of the 156 women who completed the survey, 76 met all five features qualifying for a persistent genital arousal disorder (PGAD) group, and 48 met only some features (non-PGAD group).

Main Outcome Measures.  The main outcome measures were endorsement of diagnostic signs of depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and panic attack as well as medical illnesses and pharmacological preparations.

Results.  Compared to non-PGA subjects, women with PGA were significantly more likely to be depressed (55% vs. 38%) and to report panic attacks (31.6% vs. 14.6%). They were more anxious and more likely to monitor their physical sensations. Both groups reported high rates of childhood and adult sexual abuse, although the PGA women reported a higher prevalence of sexual victimization. They were significantly more likely to endorse negative feelings about their genital sensations and also more likely to complain of chronic fatigue syndrome than women without the condition (10% vs. 0%). There were no significant relationships with pharmacologic agents and symptoms.

Conclusions.  Women who met all the criteria of PGAD were more likely than women who only met some of the criteria to report depression, anxiety, panic attacks, and certain obsessive-compulsive symptoms such as monitoring their physical sensations. It is hypothesized that for a subset of women, psychological factors, namely anxiety, reinforce exacerbate and maintain PGAD. Leiblum S, Seehuus M, Goldmeier D, and Brown C. Psychological, medical, and pharmacological correlates of persistent genital arousal disorder. J Sex Med 2007;4:1358–1366.