Gretchen Molannen, who suffered from persistent genital arousal disorder, was found dead of a suicide in her Spring Hill, Fla., home the day after a story she had participated in with the Tampa Bay Times appeared online.
A Florida woman who lived with a rare condition that left her sexually aroused to the point that she couldn’t function normally committed suicide a day after her story went public.
Gretchen Molannen, 39, was found dead around midnight Saturday, just as her story was published online on the Tampa Bay Times’ website, the newspaper first reported Tuesday.
It was a tragic end to a woman who lived with what she thought for years was a secret shame — known medically as persistent genital arousal disorder. First documented in 2001 by American psychologist Sandra Leiblum, the disorder makes women feel sexually but not psychologically stimulated.
The feeling is uncontrollable, and some women find temporary relief by masturbating for extended periods of time. The cause, doctors say, could be a nerve dysfunction. There has been no cure-all treatment, but some women have used drugs to find temporary relief.
Gretchen Molannen wears a gas mask on her Facebook page.
The newspaper described her attempt to breathe in carbon monoxide last March, and how she slit her wrist in her Spring Hill bathroom three weeks later.
“I think about suicide all the time. It doesn’t mean I want to do it”, Molannen told the Tampa Bay Times. “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,” she added of the raging disorder. “What’s the point?”
Molannen said she couldn’t hold a regular job. She depended on a boyfriend to help pay her property tax bill on a house she inherited from her parents when they died.
She wasn’t sure what brought on the sexual disorder 16 years earlier, and felt like she had no one to talk to about it. Later, doctors prescribed ice packs and cold compresses to Molannen, but nothing seemed to work, according to the Tampa Bay Times.
She once had 50 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 the newspaper.
Having physical relationships with boyfriends were difficult, she added, and she often didn’t want to be intimate. “When I describe 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 said.
The Tampa Bay Times said it had received an email from Molannen after the story ran online thanking them for getting her message out and hoping it would help other women afflicted with the disorder.
“If men have suffered with the shame of impotence or even priapism, now it’s time for women to get help as well”, she wrote, according to the newspaper.
“Thank you for your patience with me and for devoting so much time to this”. The newspaper said that other women who saw Molannen's initial story had come forward asking to talk with her about their own struggles.