Date of Conferral

2017

Degree

Ph.D.

School

Psychology

Advisor

Brian Zamboni

Abstract

Persistent Genital Arousal Disorder (PGAD) is a complex, poorly understood condition characterized by unremitting, unwanted, distressing genital arousal which occurs frequently and for extended periods of time, often in the absence of sexual stimuli. The pathophysiology is unknown. Researchers have hypothesized underlying disorders of neurological, vascular, pharmacological and psychological origins. Possible causalities have been suggested including anxiety disorder, SSRI use, and pudendal nerve neuropathies among others. Despite the uncertainty of etiology, other aspects of the disorder are clearer, including distress and poor quality of life for many. In this study, I used a biopsychosocial model to examine three potential psychological predictorsâ?? depression, stress, and anxietyâ??as well as moderators including erotophobia and perceived partner support on a sample of 51 women with PGAD. Quantitative survey methodology was used to collect information from women with PGAD who had sought care for their condition from a sexual medicine specialty clinic (San Diego Sexual Medicine) and members of an online PGAD support group. Results of the study indicated depression as the most significant predictor of distress of the three psychological variables under study. Neither erotophobia nor perceived social support moderated any of the psychological factors studied. Scores on the Female Sexual Distress Scaleâ??Revised demonstrated clinically important levels of distress. The findings highlight the need for a biopsychosocial treatment approach to the condition, including psychological therapy. Implications for social change include the preservation of quality of life and reduced depression rates in women with PGAD.

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