It was first documented by Dr. Sandra Leiblum in 2001, only recently characterized as a distinct syndrome in medical literature with a comparable counterpart increasingly reported by men. Some physicians use the term Persistent Sexual Arousal Syndrome to refer to the condition in women; others consider the syndrome of priapism in men to be the same disorder. In particular, it is not related to hypersexuality, sometimes known as nymphomania or satyriasis. Hypersexuality, nymphomania and satyriasis are also not recognized diagnosable medical conditions. In addition to being very rare, the condition is also frequently unreported by sufferers who may consider it shameful or embarrassing.
Physical arousal caused by this syndrome can be very intense and persist for extended periods, days or weeks at a time. Orgasm can sometimes provide temporary relief, but within hours the symptoms return. The return of symptoms, with the exception of known triggers, is sudden and unpredictable. Failure or refusal to relieve the symptoms often results in waves of spontaneous orgasms in women and ejaculation in men. The symptoms can be debilitating, preventing concentration on mundane tasks. Some situations, such as riding in an automobile or train, vibrations from mobile phones, and even going to the toilet can aggravate the syndrome unbearably causing the discomfort to verge on pain. It is not uncommon for sufferers to lose some or all sense of pleasure over the course of time as release becomes associated with relief from pain rather than the experience of pleasure.