Persistent Genital Arousal Syndrome (PGAS) is a rare disorder that makes sufferers sexually aroused (sometimes to the point of orgasm), without any feelings of sexual desire.
Unsexual situations—like driving a car, attending a business meeting or going to the movies—can make a person with PGAS highly uncomfortable as they try to hide the feeling of arousal they can't help but experience.
While there are many people who suffer from the condition, Zara Richardson may have the worst case of PGAS ever documented (or, at least, she's got the most public case of the disorder). Richardson has been known to orgasm up to 500 times a day. While some people think that sounds enjoyable, Zara is not one of them. She says her constant orgasms make her feel exhausted, and she has an incredibly hard time dating as she has a difficult time feeling sexually satisfied, and few men feel up to the challenge. “People think I must be in ecstasy every day, but constantly having orgasms is ruining my life,” she said.
“I have no control over the way my body feels and it affects every aspect of my life.
“The simplest act can cause me to have an episode – it’s an exhausting way to live.
“It often happens when I walk up the stairs, drive over speed bumps and whenever my phone vibrates in my pocket.
“I’ll also have an orgasm when I’m reaching for food at the supermarket, walking through turnstiles, pushing a shopping trolley and even when someone sits next to me on the sofa.
“I wake up feeling aroused and go to bed feeling that way.
“I can be standing in a queue at the supermarket and feel the PSAS start. And there is nothing I can do to stop it.
“Train journeys are a nightmare as the movement of the train can trigger an attack.
“It has put me off sex and made me depressed,” she said.
PSAS was first documented as a medical disorder in 2001 and the 30-year-old cleaner was diagnosed in 2010 after constantly feeling aroused.
“It sort of crept up on me. I started feeling sexually aroused all the time and put it down to my hormones changing,” she said.
“But even after I had sex with my boyfriend at the time, Rob, I’d never feel satisfied.
“The feeling would never go away – I’d try to distract myself by doing exercise, having hot baths or watching a depressing film, but the sensation continued.
“After two months of suffering in silence, I knew the way I was feeling wasn’t normal.
“I knew I had to tell my GP, but the idea of confessing that I couldn’t stop having orgasms was terrifying. I thought a doctor would laugh at me or think I was a crazed nymphomaniac.
“But I was having up to 500 orgasms a day. It was ruining my life,” she added.
Then Zara had a breakthrough after she found website and forums relating to PSAS, and with this new knowledge, Zara went to see her GP, who diagnosed her with PSAS.
“My doctor prescribed a course of mild anti-depressants, painkillers and anti-inflammatories for my bad days,” she said.
Zara also uses hot and cold packs to stop the orgasms occurring.
“I will sometimes sit with a packet of frozen carrots or peas wrapped in a tea towel over my parts because the coolness stops me wanting to orgasm,” she said.
Zara finds support on internet forums.
“One sufferer in the US told me she has ‘orgasm days’ were she tries to deplete her body of the desire to climax. I do that once or twice a month,” Zara said.
“It’s so embarrassing and I don’t enjoy it but it does work. I will spend the day in bed in a darkened room, trying to get them out of my system. It doesn’t feel good - in fact, it’s often very painful.
“After one of those days I can normally have a good few days free of the dreaded attacks.
“Treating this syndrome is hit and miss and it’s made me terribly depressed at times.
“I don’t go out much as when I do, I spend most of the time in the toilets trying to stop the orgasm attacks.
“Restaurants are a nightmare as when sitting still for long periods the pain of orgasms builds up. I’ve been to job interviews and the syndrome’s hit,” she added.
Suffering with PSAS has also ruined Zara’s love life as no man feels able to satisfy her in the bedroom.