“It’s not that common, it doesn’t happen to every guy, and it IS a big deal!” Most of us will remember this particularly cringeworthy moment in the well-loved sitcom, Friends. It strikes a chord, as worrying about being ‘normal’ is something that everyone does from time to time, and this is particularly true when it comes to sex. In the liberal, modern time we live in a wide variety of sexual behaviour has been accepted and normalised, yet many people still struggle with their bodies.
The world of sexual disorders is a complicated one, with shifting definitions, recognised symptoms, and theories about causes meaning that the field is constantly evolving. Some of these disorders are inconvenient but harmless, whilst others affect the day to day lives of their sufferers at a deep level. Many of these disorders are misunderstood, and wildly exaggerated in the media and online, so we at The Richest decided to put together a no-nonsense, non-hyperbolic run down of some of the more unusual conditions which can affect both men and women in the bedroom.
SYMPTOMS: An extreme pain at the base of the skull during sex. The sensation normally moves to the frontal lobe, and can often cause severe agony behind the eyes. Cephalalgia comes in two forms, the first of which is a gradual onset from the start of intercourse, and the second is an explosive moment at the point of climax.
STATS: This affliction is more prevalent in men with a ration of 3:1. It is however fairly rare, affecting less than 1% of the population. Teenagers are normally safe from this disorder, as the Cephalalgia is normally first experienced at 20 years old (or, bizarrely at the age of 35-44).
SYMPTOMS: Attempting to engage in sex whilst asleep and in a non-rapid eye movement (NREM) state. This disorder is part of the category of parasomnia which is the term used to refer to all abnormal behaviours and emotions whilst asleep or falling asleep. Sufferers of sexsomnia rarely remember their actions upon awaking, and as a result the disorder has in the past been used as a legal defence.
STATS: A study in a Toronto Sleep Clinic found that around 7.6% of their 800 patients suffered from sexsomnia, with higher rates in males (11%) than females (4%). The disorder is, of course, much more likely to occur in individuals who share a bed.
8. Supernumerary Sex Organs
SYMPTOMS: Supernumerary body parts is a broad term that can refer to everything from a conjoined twin, to an additional rib, or webbing between fingers. Throughout history there have been, however, 100 reported cases of an extremely rare condition known as Diphallia, which is when a male is born with two penises. Men with Diphallia may be able to urinate and perform sexual acts with one or both penises.
STATS: Although only 100 cases of Diphallia have ever been recorded, a related condition known as uterus didelphys, which involved multiple cervixes, vaginas, or uteruses, occurs in about 1 in 1,000 women.
7. Persistent Genital Arousal Disorder
SYMPTOMS: A spat of recent headlines in the UK press shouted ‘”Nurse has 100 orgasms a day”, and “I have 100 orgasms a day!”. However, contrary to popular opinion, PGAD is far from a pleasant experience. The condition is experienced differently in each case, but according to The Guardian almost all sufferers have symptoms ‘characterised by an implacable feeling of genital congestion and pelvic pain.’
Some individuals find that they are permanently aroused and on the verge of climax, whilst others have multiple (painful) orgasms. PGAD has been identified as related to a number of conditions including compression of a specific part of the nervous system, and pre-existing psychological conditions.
STATS: PGAD has only recently received an official medical classification, and statistics are lacking as a result. Data is also limited because of the supposedly ’embarrassing’ nature of the disorder.
6. Multiple Breast Syndrome
SYMPTOMS: Also known as Accessory Breast syndrome, this disorder is related to the supernumerary body parts condition. The third breast can occur with or without a nipple, and in some cases is not visible at the surface. It is a largely harmless condition which can be treated with cosmetic surgery.
STATS: As with many of these disorders, estimates vary wildly, but this disorder is thought to occur in an average of anywhere between 0.22% and 6% of the general population.
4. Sexual Aversion Disorder
SYMPTOMS: The symptoms for this condition are simple: a complete lack of sexual desire. It can also be known as hypoactive sexual desire disorder, sexual aversion, or sexual apathy in a person who previously identified as sexual. The exact causes are unknown, but it has been linked to a change of sexual partner, pregnancy, stress, and overwork.
STATS: Sexual Aversion Disorder has no normal range, and can fluctuate in strength and time period from person to person. It is one of the most common disorders, and it’s thought that approximately a fifth of men, and a third of women, experience this at one point in their lives.
SYMPTOMS: Hyper Sexuality, as you might guess, is the exact opposite of sexual aversion. It is generally defined as a preoccupation with sexual fantasy to a dysfunctional degree. It is often seen as a form of ‘process addiction’, which is different to substance addiction. Hyper Sexuality is sometimes a symptom of psychological conditions such as bipolar disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorders and adult attention deficit disorders.
STATS: There are a number of problems of definition with this disorder, but preliminary estimates state that around 2-3% of Americans suffer from Hyper Sexuality, though these numbers are contested.
SYMPTOMS: An involuntary vaginal muscle spasm which makes sexual intercourse either painful or impossible. The tightening of the muscle means that any vaginal penetration – whether it is a tampon or for a gynaecological exam – is very difficult. It has been compared to the automatic shutting of the eye when something approaches it.
STATS: Various different surveys have been conducted throughout the years and estimates vary from 6% to 20%, though these numbers are greatly reduced (to as low as 2%) in older women.
1. Couvade syndrome
SYMPTOMS: This largely harmless oddity is sometimes known as a sympathetic pregnancy, and is most common in men whose partner is expecting. Common symptoms include weight gain, hormonal changes, morning sickness, and even labour pains. Some see this as a psychosomatic, though it has also be cited as relating to hormones.
STATS: An Australian study found that one in three men may experience some of these symptoms, though estimates again vary greatly from 10-60%. Cases of the more extreme symptoms such as large weight gains are, however, much lower.