Skip to Content

My rare medical condition makes me permanently aroused

A student has told of the reality of living with an excruciating condition that leaves her permanently aroused — and has ruined her life.

Scarlet Kaitlin Wallen, 21, has persistent genital arousal disorder (PGAD), a condition which causes uncontrollable arousal.

Her symptoms started at the age of 6 — when she began to feel severe and constant “pins-and-needles” in her genitals.

In 15 years, she’s only had a handful of pain-free days — and she’s unable to work or study full-time.

Scarlet Kaitlin Wallen has struggled with persistent genital arousal disorder since she was 6.

But with treatments and surgeries being developed all the time, Wallen remains hopeful she’ll be able to have “a life without PGAD” one day.

She has even had some of her genital nerves removed in a bid to numb the pain.

Wallen, a part-time courier and art student from Barrington, Rhode Island, said: “I’d been experiencing pain for as long as I remember.

“My vulva was constantly burning — it was like I was naturally aroused but I didn’t want it.

Wallen is not able to work or go to school full-time as a result of her condition. Scarlet Wallen / SWNS

“There’s nerve pain, it’s not wanted — and there’s no pleasure. I’m hopeful I’ll be able to have a painless sexual relationship in my lifetime.”

Wallen says her PGAD started when she was 6 — and it would stop her from playing with her friends.

She described the pain as “burning bugs under my skin” and like her genitals were on fire.

“In my brain it was like, I didn’t want to feel this,” she added. “I wanted to be playing outside.”

When puberty hit at the age of 13, she started experiencing random days without pain.

But the burning and unwanted arousal would come back with a vengeance after a couple of days — and Wallen would deliberately use vapor rub on her genitals to distract from the unwanted arousal.

Chemicals in the rub would give her severe thrush — but she found the “rawness and burning” more tolerable than the pain from PGAD.

She said, “The PGAD on its own was unbearable — and such an odd sensation.

“I started trying to help it with vapor rub and found that at least if it wasn’t treating me, the pain I’d get from it was distracting.

“I wanted my genitals to burn from that, rather than the PGAD.”

Wallen’s PGAD, alongside other conditions like OCD, meant she became reclusive as a teen.

She struggled to make friends due to her anxiety — and couldn’t stay around people for long periods of time in case she had a PGAD flare-up.

Doctors found that Wallen was also experiencing post-SSRI sexual dysfunction — numbness in the genitals caused by antidepressants. Scarlet Wallen / SWNS

Just before graduating from high school, in 2020, Wallen saw a doctor for the first time so she could attend college without worrying about her condition.

“By 18, I was quite certain my body was attacking me,” she added. “So I wrote a letter to my parents.

“I didn’t want to tell them face to face — but it was getting so bad, I couldn’t hide it from them anymore.

“I wrote that I had this non-stop nerve pain that wasn’t even pain, it was worse.

“I told them it was something I had no control over.”

With the help of her dad, 54, an investment banker, Wallen was referred to the San Diego Sexual Medicine Clinic in California.

Her clinician was certain that Wallen was experiencing PGAD alongside her other sexual dysfunctions, like post-SSRI sexual dysfunction — numbness in the genitals caused by antidepressants.

He also found she was suffering from another condition — congenital neuroproliferative vestibulodynia — which means the pelvic nerves are hypersensitive to touch, and Wallen has been suffering from this since birth.

Wallen is hoping that her condition can be treated. Courtesy Scarlet Wallen / SWNS

It’s believe this caused the PGAD.

In a bid to find out the cause and correct treatment, he examined Wallen for the first time.

But he found she had lots of complications — including a duplicate vagina.

It is unconnected to her PGAD.

She said: “My clinician, Dr. Irwin, told me he wanted to do a vestibulectomy — a surgery to remove painful tissue from the vagina.

“But during the examination, they found I had a duplicate.

“So first, I’d need to have the blocked tissue of the vagina removed — the thing that was causing it to divide into two parts.

“Then, I could have my vestibulectomy.”

In February 2023, Wallen had her septate vagina wall removed — and only took a week to recover.

Her vestibulectomy took place on September 8, 2023 — but she only had parts of the painful tissue removed, giving her a greater chance of having a “normal” sex drive in the future.

She added: “I was told there was a significant possibility I wouldn’t be able to feel any sort of natural sexual arousal again if I had all of it removed — due to my post-SSRI sexual dysfunction.”

“I still want to have a sexual relationship — but my choice is currently between living with PGAD or being completely numb.

“I’m just hopeful that one day I’ll be able to live a normal life.”