A Florida woman who suffered from a genital arousal disorder tragically ended her life on Saturday.
Gretchen Molannen recently spoke with the Tampa Bay Times about her struggle with persistent genital arousal disorder in an interview. She committed suicide shortly after the article was published.
The 39-year-old told reporters that she was initially ashamed about her condition and did not know what sparked it 16 years ago. After watching an episode of 20/20 spotlighting another woman suffering from the disorder in 2007, she realized she was not alone.
Psychologist Sandra Leiblum brought awareness to persistent genital arousal disorder in her 2001 documentary explaining that the condition causes women to be sexually aroused physically but not psychologically.
Women suffering from the disorder experience uncontrollable stimulation and some turn to masturbation or medication for temporary relief. Doctors have not been able to find an overall cure to treat the disorder.
Initially doctors prescribed ice packs to relieve Molannen of her symptoms but it did not work. She said she once had 500 orgasms in a row.
“I can’t even stop to get a drink of water. And you’re in so much pain. You’re soaking in sweat. Every inch of your body hurts,” she told local reporters.
Molannen said she also struggled to have a healthy dating life.
“When I described it to men, I tell them, ‘Imagine having an erection that does not go down, that feeling of just before it comes out, all day, all night, no matter how many times, no matter how much you’ve destroyed the skin on your penis,” she explained.
Molannen described the disorder as a “beast” that caused her to consider suicide on several occasions. She admitted to reporters that she tried to commit suicide last March by breathing in carbon monoxide. She tried to commit it again three weeks later by slitting her wrists.
“This isn’t living. I think about suicide all the time. It doesn’t mean I want to do it,” Molannen told reporters. “I don’t want to do that. I want to enjoy life. I used to love life.
“I had a great life and I could have a wonderful life, but this has destroyed it,” Molannen described about her unrelenting disorder.
Her constant stimulation kept her from keeping a job. Molannen had to depend on her boyfriend to pay the property taxes on her home that she inherited from her parents.
Local reporters said she sent them an email after the article was published thanking them for the opportunity to share her story with others.
“Thank you for your patience with me and for devoting so much time to this,” she said.
Reporters said that another woman suffering from the disease reached out to them about sharing her own experience after seeing Molannen’s story.