American researchers may have found a possible cause of Persistent Genital Arousal Disorder (PGAD) – or at least uncovered an angle for further research.
Their study, published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, showed the presence of Tarlov cysts in about two-thirds of study subjects who had PGAD.
PGAD is an ongoing feeling of genital arousal that occurs in women. Women with PGAD may feel tingling, throbbing, pressure, or pain in their genitals. These symptoms occur without any desire for sexual activity. They can last for hours or for days. Orgasm may bring some relief, but that relief is usually short-lived. PGAD causes distress; women do not want to have this constant genital sensation.
It is unclear what causes PGAD, but suggested causes include medications, vascular or neurological issues, and psychological problems.
Tarlov cysts are fluid-filled sacs that form on the sacral area of the spine. Tarlov cysts can affect nerve roots can cause pain, burning or pricking sensations, and dyspareunia (painful intercourse).
Co-author Dr. Barry Komisaruk got the idea to study Tarlov cysts in relation to PGAD when a colleague at Rutgers University mentioned his wife’s MRI. She had PGAD and Tarlov cysts.
In their study, Dr. Komisaruk and Dr. Huey-Jen Lee approached an internet support group for women with PGAD, explained their research, and requested MRIs of the sacral region. Eighteen women complied.
Drs. Komisaruk and Lee found that 12 of the 18 women, or 66.7%, had Tarlov cysts. About 1.2% to 9% of people have them in the general population.
The researchers admitted that the validity of their findings could be called into question, as their data was not obtained in a typical way. Also, there were only 18 MRIs to examine and there was no control group.
However, they suggest that future research could examine Tarlov cysts as a possible cause of PGAD. “In seeking the etiology and treatment for PGAD for a sufferer, it would seem advisable to test for – at the very least to rule out – Tarlov cysts,” they wrote.
The Institute of Sexual Medicine
Goldstein, Irwin, MD
Journal of Sexual Medicine
Komisaruk, Barry R., PhD and Huey-Jen Lee, MD
“Prevalence of Sacral Spinal (Tarlov) Cysts in Persistent Genital Arousal Disorder”
(Full-text. First published online: May 17, 2012)
My Health News Daily
“New Clue to Constant Sexual Arousal in Women”
(June 1, 2012)
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
“NINDS Tarlov Cysts Information Page”
(Last updated: June 14, 2012)