Many men dream of sporting a constant erection as proof of their virility, but as men who have experienced priapism know, an erection that goes on for too long results in a sore penis -and can be dangerous to penis health as well. Similarly, men who experience the condition known as PGAD know that a sore penis – and many other issues – can result from being in too heightened a state of arousal too frequently.
What is PGAD?
PGAD is short for persistent genital arousal disorder and is also sometimes known as RGS (for restless genital syndrome). It’s a relatively new condition (or, to be more accurate, it has only in recent years been given an official name) and there are some who dispute whether it is an actual medical condition.
So what is it? Basically, it’s exactly what the name suggests: a feeling of sexual excitement in the genitals that is long-lasting and recurrent. In other words, in a man it means he has long stretches during which he is in a heightened state of arousal even in the absence of sexual thoughts or desires. Most often in men, it includes the presence of an intense erection, often painfully erect. In cases in which the erection wanes, the penis still feels a sense of throbbing or sensitivity.
PGAD was described in women before men, possibly due to the societal view of men as being “always ready” for sex.
Is it hypersexuality?
Some think PGAD is simply another way of describing hypersexuality, an overactive sex drive. But the key difference is that PGAD often occurs when there is no active interest in sex on the part of the affected individual. For example, a man may be working feverishly to finish a deadline project, but experience an intense arousal which creates a sore penis that keeps him from working. This is different from a case of hypersexuality, where thoughts of sexual activity are the reason for the state of arousal which gets in the way of his work.
Men with PGAD often find themselves masturbating or engaging in sex, not because they feel driven to by their desires, but because achieving release may be the only thing that grants relief – although that relief is often only temporary. Thus a man with PGAD may end up masturbating several times a day in order to relieve the discomfort. And often the frequent masturbating can make the sore penis feel worse.
Very little is known at this time about PGAD, and so doctors don’t really know what might be causing it. It seems, however, that it is a neurosensory issue; something makes the nerves in the penis even more heightened and sensitive than they are normally.
Other than engaging in sex (alone or with a partner) frequently, is there anything a man with PGAD can do? Again, because the condition is so poorly understood, treatment options are still being determined. Among the common medications used are certain antidepressants, anti-seizure medications, and drugs that increase the hormone prolactin. Relaxation therapies sometimes provide relief, as does applying ice packs to the sore penis.