A 39-year-old woman who suffered from a rare sexual disorder that caused her to be continually aroused committed suicide in her home on December 1. Gretchen Molannen suffered from persistent genital arousal disorder. She was featured in a Tampa Bay Times story that dealt with her condition.
After her death, Molannen’s boyfriend contacted theTimesvia email, letting them know that Molannen had committed suicide, and that the story “won’t help her now.”
While authorities did not provide information about how or when Molannen died, she was last seen alive Thursday at 11:30 pm. Records show deputies responded to a suicide call about midnight Saturday night.
Molannen was please that the Times was doing a story about the condition from which she suffered.
“I know that God wants more out of my life than having me testing out suicide methods, constantly crying and abusing myself,” she said in the story that was published in the Times’ Floridian magazine on Sunday.
Women who suffer from persistent genital arousal disorder experience a continued state of being physically, but not psychologically, aroused. The Times reports, “Many must masturbate for hours for just a few minutes of relief.” While some joke about the condition as something pleasurable — one of Molannen’s doctors even commented “I wish my wife had that” — the continual stimulation is described by Molannen as “agony.”
The only temporary relief she got from the constant stimulation was from hours of masturbation, which she detested. Even then, reports Fox News, “the agony would only subside for minutes.”
While Molannen’s boyfriend helped her financially, physical intimacy would lead to significant pain. Molannen described the pain:
“The arousal won’t let up. It will not subside. It will not relent. One O-R-G will lead you directly into the horrible intense urge, like you’re already next to having another one. So you just have to keep going. I mean, on my worst night I had 50 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,”
When Molannen, whose symptoms started when she was 23, finally saw a doctor, she was told to “take a milk bath” and “use ice packs.” Nothing helped. Even after intercourse, the pain would only let up for a few minutes.
Due to her constant pain and orgasming, she couldn’t hold down a job. When she applied for disability, a judge denied her case.
While some doctors believe that the disorder is a nerve dysfunction, many have never seen the condition before.
Molannen, who was sexually abused as a child, suffered for 16 years. For ten years, she had not idea what ailed her, and suffered in silence. Finally, in 2007, she saw a woman on television talking about the condition, and knew that she had the same disorder.
Although she sought medical help, the disorder is so rare that many insurance providers won’t cover tests and treatments.
She said the condition was so debilitating that she attempted suicide at least three times during the past year.
When the Times found Molannen in 2012, she was looking for medical help on Craigslist. She had no income and had been denied Social Security benefits. She was posting on Craigslist to find someone, anyone, who could give her a free MRI to prove her condition for a judge.
Molannen agreed to tell her story in July. The Times interviewed her for a total of 10 hours, about half in person and half on the phone. In August, she went before a disability judge for a second time. He later rejected Molannen’s disability claim. Molannen gave that rejection letter to the Times.
The Times reports that, last week, Molannen’s story had been written and read to her word for word, and “several small details were removed at her request.”
Before publication, the Times thanked her over the phone and in an email for her help. She replied by email:
“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.”
The Times tried to reach Molannen over the weekend by text, phone and email to see how she was doing. She did not respond.
Authorities found her dead in her home on December 1.