Gretchen Molannen was a Florida woman who suffered from persistent genital arousal disorder for an excruciating 16 years - the debilitating sexual ailment could make the 39-year-old orgasm up to a shocking 50 times in a row before eventually ceasing. This disorder negatively impacted Molannen's everyday life, making it so that she couldn't function normally or even hold a job. On Saturday evening (Dec. 1), Mollannen's lifeless body was found in her Spring Hill, FL home - she apparently couldn't take the uncontrollable sexual urges anymore and allegedly committed suicide. Molannen's tragic death follows just days after a "Tampa Bay Times" published a thorough profile her rare condition.
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One of the only forms of relief for people who battle with persistent genital arousal disorder (or PGAD, a nerve malfunction where someone is aroused physically, but not psychologically) is to masturbate for several hours on end. For Molannen, a devout Lutheran, this served as a very shameful act. Molannen had no idea that she suffered from the disorder for ten years, and out of embarrassment kept her agony from her parents (whom she lived with until they died). Her condition got so bad that she couldn't function normally in society - although she had dreamed of becoming a translator, she had not held a steady job since 1999. Molannen finally realized that she was afflicted with PGAD after watching a 20/20 television special on the disorder.
The trials of PGAD depressed Molannen so much that she attempted suicide three unsuccessful times in the past year, until she eventually took her own life on Saturday. "I know that God wants more out of my life than having me testing out suicide methods, constantly crying and abusing myself," she told the "Tampa Bay Times" over the summer.
Molannen tried to seek medical help - although many doctors had never heard of her rare condition, she couldn't afford the treatments that they eventually offered her. She tried filing for Social Security disability benefits, but was denied because her ailment wasn't perceived as a "true" disorder. Molannen then posted an ad on Craigslist explaining her condition and asking for someone to provide her with a free MRI so she could prove her disorder to the judge. That is when the "Times" ran across her struggle.
The "Tampa Bay Times" interviewed Molannen about her battle with PGAD over the summer, and an extensive profile was published in the newspaper in November. On Nov. 28, Molannen sent the "Times" a thank-you email, writing:
"Thank YOU for taking an interest in doing a story for me! I am flattered that you cared so much to want to help. I just hope this will educate people that this is serious and really exists, and that other women who are suffering in silence will now have the courage to talk to a doctor about it. If men have suffered with the shame of impotence or even priapism, now it's time for women to get help as well. Thank you for your patience with me and for devoting so much time to this. I'm sure your editor is very proud of your work and I'm excited to see my own story online."
Following her story, many medical professionals wish to help Molannen and other women suffering from the disorder attempted to reach out to her. But Molannen's boyfriend sent the "Times" an email on Monday, saying that she wouldn't be needing help - "She was found dead in her home on Saturday night. She committed suicide."
It remains unclear just how many women suffer from PGAD (many are most likely too embarrassed to come forward), but experts estimate it could be in the thousands.