A woman who suffered from a debilitating condition where she had constant, uncontrollable orgasms has committed suicide after years of battling her affliction.
Gretchen Molannen, 39, was found dead in her home in Spring Hill, Florida, over the weekend from an apparent suicide.
She had suffered from persistent genital arousal disorder (PGAD) for more than a decade-and-a-half.
The condition means the afflicted are physically but not psychologically aroused and can often only find relief after masturbating for hours upon end.
It is unclear how or when the 39-year-old died. The Hernando County Sheriff’s office responded to a suicide call on Saturday night and two of her friends confirmed it.
The Tampa Bay Times did a profile on Ms Molannen only a week before, speaking to her about her debilitating disorder.
‘I had such a different life before this thing, this beast, took over,’ she said in November. Ms Molannen explained that she began feeling the sensation when she was 23, describing that it was like a switch she couldn’t turn off.
‘I used to love life. But this has destroyed it. This isn’t living. What’s the point? I think about suicide all the time,’ she said.
One of the only forms of relief came from masturbating for hours on end, something that Ms Molannen, a Lutheran, found as a point of shame.
Though she had aspirations of working as a translator as she was fluent in French, German and Spanish, her condition meant that she had to take odd jobs, because she had to deal with the physical demands of PGAD.
But, having to relieve herself almost constantly, she stopped working in 1999 and started spending most of the time in her bedroom with her vibrator.
‘I was terrified,’ she said. ‘I couldn’t get unaroused. I didn’t know what to do.’
Her distress over the condition made her attempt suicide three times in the past year.
‘I know that God wants more out of my life than having me testing out suicide methods, constantly crying and abusing myself,’ she said.
She tragically revealed to the paper she had been molested for years by a neighbor, who said she was being punished for being bad. She wondered if that had anything to do with it?
THE AGONY AND THE ECSTASY: WHAT IS PGAD?
Persistent genital arousal disorder is a fairly recent phenomenon, first described in medical literature in 2001.
Sufferers describe symptoms as only physical arousal. Women who have the disorder say that they experience symptoms that are intense and incredibly uncomfortable.
Some women may temporarily lesson the symptoms by masturbating and reaching orgasm, though it is an ephemeral relief system. Treatment ranges from psychotherapy to various medications.
Doctors don’t agree what causes it but do agree on how debilitating it is.
Women have described getting it after falling over, childbirth, menopause and coming off anti-depressants.
Unable to hold down any full-time employment. Ms Molannen said she tried to file for disability twice, and was twice denied.
Because of this, her boyfriend had paid her taxes so she could keep her parents’ house.
Her worst day, she said, was when she had 50 uncontrolled orgasms in a row.
‘It made me think I was going to die,’ she told the newspaper. ‘That was the worst day.’
Describing the first time she felt it, Ms Molannen said she thought it was just a hormonal change women went through that they didn’t talk about, so she suffered in silence for ten years.
‘I noticed something wasn’t right any more but thought maybe I’ll grow out of it. So I waited and waited – its been almost 16 years and I’m still waiting.’
Describing the orgasms she experiences, she said: ‘All the feelings that people have when they are aroused, they’re there. The genital congestion, throbbing pulsating, heart pounding, it’s all there but the difference is tremendous anxiety – anxiety which is devastating and traumatizing.
‘I try to tell myself it’s not real and just ignore it. Sometimes I can resist it and sometimes I just can’t.’
Breaking down in tears she told the Times: ‘I had no idea other people were going through this.
‘I wish I could have told my mom, and even my dad about it. I wish I could have told my parents’ friends I wasn’t in my room wasting my life away.’
The paper found her after she posted an ad on Craigslist seeking help at the beginning of the year. She wanted someone to give her a free MRI scan so she could prove her condition to a judge.
Tragically, after the story was published – and after she had committed suicide – a number of people reached out to the paper to offer their help.
According to the Journal of Sex and Marriage Therapy, any number of events or medications can trigger the disorder, including going off antidepressants, starting menopause, and even a bad fall.
It is unclear how many women suffer from the disease, but experts estimate it to be in the thousands.