Some people have a higher or lower sex drive than others. It's also not uncommon for sex drive to vary or change.
Having a desire for sex is completely normal, and many consider sex an important part of life. However, some sex habits have the potential to be harmful. If you're going through a tough time due to what you believe may be hypersexuality, help is available, and it is possible to learn how to manage it so that into longer has a negative impact on your life.
The APA dictionary definition of hypersexuality is "extreme frequency of sexual activity or an inordinate desire for sexual activity."
In other words, hypersexuality refers to an excessive preoccupation with sexual activity, urges, fantasies, or behaviors. With hypersexuality, which is sometimes referred to as "compulsive sexual behavior," "sex addiction," or "hypersexuality disorder," these urges, fantasies, or behaviors are so strong and overbearing that they may impact your occupation, daily activities, interpersonal relationships, overall functioning, or other important areas of life. Hypersexuality disorder isn't a formal diagnosis, but it is recognized among medical professionals and researchers.
Hypersexuality isn't synonymous with a high sex drive alone. Some people have a high sex drive or enjoy frequent sex but do not struggle with hypersexuality.
There are many theories regarding the cause of hypersexuality. Most people do not experience symptoms of this disorder until they are adults, but some may show signs earlier on. Potential risk factors for hypersexuality may include but aren't limited to:
That said, hypersexuality can impact anyone. About 3 to 6% of adults in the United States alone are said to experience hypersexuality disorder. Some experts hypothesize that the actual percentage may even be higher than that. If you're coping with hypersexuality disorder or think that you might be, you aren't alone. Hypersexuality or hypersexuality disorder can make life more difficult, and in some cases, it can have serious consequences. The good news is that help is available.
*If you or someone you know is or may be experiencing a substance use disorder or concerns related to substance use, please get in touch with the SAMHSA National Helpline at 1-800-662-4357.
**Abuse is serious. Please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) if you or someone you know is affected by abuse.
People with hypersexuality disorder can have varying degrees or combinations of the symptoms listed below.
This is not an exhaustive list of all possible signs and symptoms of hypersexuality. Rather, these are some of the most common and frequently reported symptoms. At the end of the day, you will know if this is impacting you, your life, or your interpersonal relationships negatively, and no matter how mild or severe, it is a situation that deserves to be addressed. You do not have to wait for things to get worse to reach out for help. While hypersexuality disorder is not a condition currently listed in the diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (DSM), if you are experiencing any of these signs, it's important to contact your doctor or mental health professional. Taking the first step can be hard, but treatment can change your life.
Treatment for Hypersexual Disorder
In some ways, the treatment for hypersexuality or hypersexuality disorder can be similar to treatment for substance use disorders and other similar conditions.
There are rehabilitation centers focused on providing closed-door treatment for people who experience sexual behaviors or thoughts interfering with their lives. These centers provide an environment where someone struggling with hypersexuality can feel emotionally safe and access the care they need to address what they're going through.
In most hypersexual disorder treatment facilities, doctors will focus on four primary aspects of the addiction:
Inpatient treatment is one of the most effective ways to combat and overcome hypersexuality disorder. Other techniques can include individual and group therapy, family counseling, medication, and support groups. For all guidance regarding medication and other treatment options, please consult a licensed medical professional.
Last but not least, you might consider looking for a support group that meets in person or online. Although they're sometimes overlooked as an option, support groups end up being one of the essential parts of treatment for some people.
The people in these groups are all going through the same thing to identify and empathize with one another. Support groups may also play a part in keeping individuals accountable and can provide support to people when they are having trouble with their urges and desires.
Just because someone watches pornography or masturbates, it does not mean they have a sex addiction. Most sexual acts between consenting adults are normal and healthy; when sexual behaviors begin to influence or dictate your life, you may have an addiction or intimacy issues that need to be addressed.
Obsessive sexual behaviors tend to get worse or more frequent as time goes by. If your behavior is causing harm, risk, or problems for yourself or those close to you, you should ask yourself these questions:
If you answer "yes" to any of these questions, it may be time to seek help from your primary care physician or mental health professional. Understand that you are not alone, and set aside any shame or embarrassment you may feel. Everything you and your doctor talk about is protected under patient-doctor confidentiality. It would help if you focused on getting the help you need. Overcoming hypersexuality or hypersexuality disorder isn't something you have to do on your own, and getting the right kind of support can help you get your life back on track.
Whether you want to address hypersexuality or something else that's impacting your mental health, the support of a counselor or therapist can help. There are several different ways to find a therapist. You can contact your insurance company to see who they cover, ask your doctor for a referral, search the web for a provider in your area, or sign up for a reputable online therapy platform like BetterHelp. All of the providers on the BetterHelp platform are licensed, and online therapy or counseling is often more affordable than traditional in-person services are without insurance. Regardless of how you find a provider, you deserve to get the support that you need, so don't hesitate to take the first step and reach out or sign up today.
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Hypersexuality disorder is a serious concern, but you can get through it with the help of a skilled professional such as a counselor or therapist. In therapy, you can work together to address your symptoms and improve your quality of life. Take the first step today.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What Mental Illnesses Causes Hypersexuality?
Currently, according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 5th edition (DSM-5) released by the American Psychiatric Association, experiencing hypersexuality is not considered a distinct or diagnosable mental health condition. However, you can still get help for hypersexuality, which is recognized by the medical community. It’s also worth noting that various conditions are in the DSM may contribute to hypersexuality.
Mood disorders such as depression, anxiety disorders, and bipolar disorder can cause or contribute to hypersexuality. Some may use hypersexuality or an excessive focus on sex as a form of escape, where for others, it may be a compulsion or both an escape and a compulsion. This also correlates with the connection between neurotransmitters like serotonin and norepinephrine, linked with mental disorders like depression and anxiety. People who struggle with similar disorders and concerns, such as gambling or substance use disorders, may also engage in hypersexual behavior.
Why Do I Feel Sexually Excited All of The Time?
Sex drive can vary from person to person and change day by day, and things like hormones and certain foods can influence it. Some people might have a much stronger sex drive than others and will have more frequent sexual fantasies and urges than them, and in most cases, this is completely normal.
On the other hand, if your fantasies, urges, or behaviors are getting in the way of your day-to-day living and affecting your well-being and important areas of functioning, you might have hypersexuality disorder, and it’s recommended that you seek treatment so you can learn how to manage the condition better.
What Does Hypersexuality Feel Like?
Hypersexuality can feel like an uncontrollable sensation of sexual fantasies, urges, or behaviors, and it can be difficult to manage and cause distress or impairment.
People may notice its effects on occupational and other important areas of life. It can also lead to anxiety, depression, and other mental disorders, which can cause a vicious cycle due to people using compulsive sexual behavior to cope with their negative emotions.
Unfortunately, many people will have unsuccessful efforts to control their hypersexual behavior and sexual addiction on their own, which is why getting help is crucial to keeping fantasies and urges under control so you can live a happier and more productive life.
How Do You Know If Someone Is Hypersexual?
While hypersexuality can be entirely in a person’s mind, such as their fantasies and urges, and not observable, there are also signs of hypersexuality that you may be able to notice.
For example, you might interact with someone preoccupied or obsessed with sexual activity, and they may openly discuss intense sexual fantasies with you repeatedly.
They may also spend a lot of time watching adult content, having frequent one-night-stands and being unable to commit to relationships, or having an affair, sometimes with multiple people.
These are some examples of how you can identify if someone is hypersexual. Still, it’s recommended that you read the Indicators of Hypersexual Disorder section above to get a more comprehensive picture of how hypersexuality can present itself in people.
The reasons why people can become hypersexual can vary, and many people might do it because of depression, anxiety, boredom, or irritability, so it’s important to recognize signs of these matters in many cases as well.
What Causes Female Hypersexuality?
Regardless of gender, there are many potential causes of hypersexuality.
When it comes to sex drive, males are often the first to come to mind because of the effects of the sex hormone testosterone. However, females can also be hypersexual, and neurotransmitters and hormones can affect their libido, just like men. Women also have androgens, and if there is a hormonal imbalance, this can influence sexual behavior.
Outside of hormonal differences or imbalances, mental health conditions and trauma are two common contributors to hypersexuality.