Am I Normal? Unusual Sexual Conditions to Watch Out For
There’s a wide range of things considered “normal” within the bounds of sexual health. However, this doesn’t stop you from worrying about your wellbeing, and whether or not you’re sexually “normal”. Plus, there can be a big stigma associated with talking about sex, so you can’t always compare notes with your friends. That said, there are some unusual conditions to watch out for, so take a look at our list – embarrassment free.
1. Persistent Genital Arousal Disorder (PGAD): According to health and wellness expert Shanna Freeman, former Senior Editor at HowStuffWorks, ‘People with persistent genital arousal disorder, or PGAD, are constantly in a state of sexual arousal. Actual symptoms of PGAD can vary. Women often experience the physical signs of arousal, including engorgement in their genitals, without even thinking about sex. They can also have such sensitive genital areas that driving or wearing certain types of clothing can cause arousal.’ Some doctors refer to PGAD when talking about women, and priapism (see below) when discussing similar symptoms in men. However, many wellness experts do not believe in making a distinction between genders. Although some people just live with the condition, there has been some success with medication such as antidepressants or Chantix (initially used to curb nicotine addiction).
2. Priapism: There is one basic symptom to watch out for with this sexual health condition; a painful engorgement of your erectile tissues that lasts for more than four hours. Freeman explains that priapism ‘occurs when blood becomes trapped in the genital area and does not circulate back into the rest of the body. While women can have priapism, it’s more common in men, and men and women require different treatments for the condition.’ Given the large amount of blood trapped in the genitals, men need immediate medical attention. If left untreated, priapism can cause vessel damage, scarring, a loss of function or even gangrene. The earlier you seek attention, the better your chances of a full recovery. For women, ice packs and anti-inflammatory medications can usually relieve your tenderness and swelling.
3. Hypersexuality: This sexual health condition is actually classified as a mental disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). ‘People with this diagnosis also have lowered sexual inhibitions and are generally obsessed with sex to the point that their lives are deeply affected,’ says Freeman. ‘People with hypersexuality often engage in risky sexual behaviours, like sex with prostitutes and unprotected sex with numerous strangers, which can put them at risk for sexually transmitted infections. Those who are in monogamous relationships may not be able to be faithful to their partners. In extreme cases, hypersexual people may be sexually abusive to others.’ The treatments for this condition vary, but your doctor may prescribe mood-stabilising drugs, talk therapy or drugs that reduce your testosterone levels.
4. Sexsomnia: Put simply, people with sexsomnia have sex while they’re asleep – usually with no idea about it until confronted by evidence or by another person. Freeman notes, ‘Behaviours may range from masturbation to having sexual intercourse while sleeping. Sexsomniacs have been known to sleepwalk from their homes and have sex with strangers. There have even been cases in which a person with sexsomnia committed a sexual assault or rape while asleep.’ In order to treat sexsomnia effectively, your doctor will need to determine the underlying cause. If sleep apnoea is the culprit, treating sexsomnia can be as simple as using a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine to treat sleep apnoea. Anti-anxiety drugs have also been found to be effective in treating sexsomnia.