PARIS, March 24 (AFP): A health journal on Friday describes a newly-identified syndrome affecting women -- non-stop sexual arousal that can last for months and cannot be satisfied regardless of the number of orgasms.
The paper, which appears in the International Journal of Sexually-Transmitted Diseases and AIDS, tentatively calls it Persistent Sexual Arousal Syndrome, or PSAS.
It seems to affect only a small minority of women but the true extent is unclear.
The study says that, despite the sniggering or smart remarks this condition may cause, the state of endless arousal can cripple a woman's life.
Sometimes embarrassing and often humiliating, the condition is unwanted because it occurs in the absence of genuine sexual interest. Some women have been so depressed by the problem that they have even been driven to electroshock therapy.
PSAS is a "distressing and perplexing condition," say the authors, David Goldmeier of St. Mary's Hospital in London and Sandra Leiblum of the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in New Jersey.
"Women with this clinical experience find the symptoms unwelcome since the genital arousal is usually persistent, unprovoked and unrelieved by orgasm.
"Indeed, women with persistent genital arousal report a high degree of psychological distress and even suicidal thoughts."
The syndrome is a physical disorder in which the labia, vulva and clitoris become engorged with blood, causing arousal.
PSAS is different from the psychological condition of hypersexuality, the medical term for nymphomania.
But the causes for the syndrome remain unclear because it is such a newly-identified and thus poorly-explored condition and those who suffer from it tend to do so in silence.
Anecdotal evidence points to the entrapment of local nerves or a disorder in blood circulation around the genitals.
Another suspected culprit is a class of antidepressants called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).