What is Restless Genital Syndrome (ReGS)? You’ve probably never heard of it but the name has more than likely piqued your interest.
An article published in Medscape has defined it as restlessness in the genitals and pelvis. The condition was first described as “persistent sexual arousal syndrome” in 2001 and was thought to have sexual causes. However, it is now understood that there is a link between ReGS and restless leg syndrome (RLS) and that the causes are more than likely to be neurological rather than sexual, hence the change in name.
The condition is poorly understood, according to a British review of the available literature published in the Journal of Sexually Transmitted Diseases and Aids. To date, there has been little research conducted and in research that does exist, there are concerns about the validity of the results.
It has been reported far more significantly in women than men and causes moderate to severe distress in patients, according to research by Professor Sandra Leiblum and colleagues published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine.
Because of the lack of research, the causes of the condition are not well understood. Research conducted by Dr. Thomas Facelle and colleagues published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine indicates that ReGS may stem from a number of causes, including use of certain medications and psychological, neurological or vascular causes.
What symptoms do patients experience?
In an article written for Medscape, Dr. Camila Henriques De Aquino indicated that patients usually complain of discomfort in the genital region. This discomfort includes burning, tingling, throbbing itching or pain in the genitals. She goes on to state that symptoms are often worse when a patient is sitting or lying down than when they are standing or walking. Symptoms are also occur more commonly at night than during the daytime.
Similarly, patients with Restless Leg Syndrome also experience worsened symptoms when resting or lying down, the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke in the U.S indicates. Furthermore, both patients with ReGS and restless leg syndrome experience a sudden, often overwhelming desire to move around to reduce the sensations they are experiencing.
How can Restless Genital Syndrome be treated?
Because the condition has only been described relatively recently, the treatment guidelines for Restless Genital Syndrome have not yet been defined. Because, newer research suggests similarities to Restless Leg Syndrome, Dr. Henriques De Aquino believes that the same medications used for RLS could be effective for Restless Genital Syndrome. These medications are known as dopamine agonists and increase dopamine levels in the brain. They are also used in other low-dopamine conditions such as Parkinson’s Disease.
As there are no defined guidelines, diagnosis is based on the symptoms given by the patient and responsiveness to the dopamine agonist prescribed.
Image: Vaginal discomfort from Shutterstock