Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content
News & Events
14/12/2008 | Faculty of Science


Persistent imminent orgasms in women are associated with restless legs

Persistent imminent orgasms in women are associated with restless legs and overactive bladder. This is the result of research by the Utrecht University and The Hague’s HagaHospital. Neuropsychiatrist Dr. Marcel Waldinger and his colleagues studied 18 Dutch women with Persistent Sexual Arousal Syndrome (PSAS) and published their results this week in the renowned International scientific Journal of Sexual Medicine.

Women affected by this rare and mysterious syndrome experience persistent genital sensations as if they are continuously on the verge of an orgasm. All participants received in depth interviews and various medical examinations such as MRI-scans of the brain and pelvis. The study showed that most women in this research also had restless legs, symptoms of an overactive bladder and pelvic varicosis. “These results are a very important breakthrough in the research of this syndrome and show that this is a real physical disorder”, Waldinger emphasizes.

Persistent Sexual Arousal Syndrome

In 2001, Persistent Sexual Arousal Syndrome was mentioned for the first time in medical literature. Only 22 case reports have been described so far. A key feature of the syndrome is that sexual contact does not lead to diminishment but to aggravation of the symptoms. The complaints may lead to desperate and depressive feelings.

Restless legs and overactive bladder

The majority of women in the study, which is the largest study on PSAS so far performed, reported that their complaints were accompanied by restless legs and frequent urge to void. Some of them reported to have restless legs symptoms long before their genital complaints. MRI-scan and ECHO-Doppler investigations of the pelvis and genitals also demonstrated a high prevalence of pelvic varicosis. Notably, varicosis and restless legs are associated. The researchers are currently continuing their research on restless legs and bladder functioning in women with PSAS.

Restless Genital Syndrome (RGS)

According to Dr. Waldinger, PSAS is a genital form of restless legs. Based on scientific observations, he postulated the view that the weird genital sensations are equivalent to the sensations belonging to the Restless Legs Syndrome. “In order to emphasize this equivalence, we decided to change PSAS into Restless Genital Syndrome (RGS)”, Waldinger explains. He further adds “The results of our study contradicts the idea, that the complaints have a psychological cause”, and “further investigations may contribute to an adequate treatment of this debilitating newly recognized syndrome, that may be more prevalent than is currently known”.


M.D. Waldinger, van A.P.G. Gils and others. Persistent Genital Arousal Disorder in 18 Dutch Women: Part I. MRI, EEG and Transvaginal Ultrasonography Investigations. Journal of Sexual Medicine, 2008 (e-pub)

M.D. Waldinger, D.H. Schweitzer. Persistent Genital Arousal Disorder in 18 Dutch Women: Part II. A Syndrome Clustered with Restless Legs and Overactive Bladder. Journal of Sexual Medicine, 2008 (e-pub)

To get the full articles, please send an e-mail to:

Dr. Marcel Waldinger is a Neuropsychiatrist at the Leyenburg site of the HagaZiekenhuis in The Hague and is Associate Professor of Sexual Psychopharmacology at Utrecht University. His colleagues are medical specialists at HagaZiekenhuis in The Hague and Diaconessen Hospital in Delft in the Netherlands

More information

Website about Restless Genital Syndrome:

Roy Keeris, Utrecht University Press Communication, +31 30 253 24 11,