Exploring Hypersexuality: Possible Causes And Symptoms

Medically reviewed by Laura Angers Maddox, NCC, LPC
Updated June 18, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

If you're experiencing an overwhelming need for sex, you may be experiencing symptoms associated with hypersexuality. Also known as a compulsive sexual behavior disorder, hypersexuality is generally characterized by an intense and persistent preoccupation with sexual thoughts, urges and behaviors that may interfere with daily life. 

If you're worried that your sexual behavior may be out of control, it can be helpful to recognize the possible signs and take steps to get help. Below, we’re exploring the symptoms of hypersexuality disorder, as well as supportive strategies that can help promote a higher quality of life in many. 

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Are you experiencing hypersexuality?

Possible symptoms of hypersexuality

Symptoms of hypersexuality may vary from person to person. Some common signs can include the following:

Persistent and intense sexual thoughts and urges

People with hypersexuality disorder may experience frequent sexual thoughts or urges that can be difficult to control or ignore. These thoughts and urges may be accompanied by a strong desire to act on them, even if it is inappropriate or risky.

Engagement in risky sexual behaviors

People living with hypersexuality disorder may engage in risky sexual behaviors, such as having unprotected sex or seeking out multiple partners. They may also engage in illegal behaviors, such as viewing or distributing child pornography.

Losing control over sexual behavior

People who live with hypersexuality may feel that they are unable to control their sexual behavior, even if it is a point of disruption in their life. They may also continue to engage in sexual behaviors despite the negative consequences, such as the risk of sexually transmitted infections or damaged relationships.

Neglecting responsibilities or relationships due to sexual behaviors

People who live with hypersexuality may prioritize their sexual behaviors over other responsibilities or relationships. They may spend excessive time thinking about or engaging in sexual activities, which may lead to neglecting work, school, or family obligations.

Experiencing negative consequences as a result of sexual behaviors

People living with hypersexuality may experience adverse effects due to their sexual behaviors, such as legal problems, financial difficulties or damaged relationships. They may also experience physical consequences, such as sexually transmitted infections or other health problems.

Possible causes of hypersexuality disorder

The causes of  hypersexuality disorder are not fully understood, however many specialists believe that biological, psychological and social factors may influence them in many. We’ve summarized current beliefs and findings regarding possible causes of hypersexuality in humans below: 

Biological factors

Hypersexuality disorder may be caused by imbalances in brain chemistry, alterations in brain structure or hormonal fluctuations that affect sexual behavior. For example, some studies have suggested that imbalances in neurotransmitters, such as dopamine and serotonin, may be involved in the development of compulsive sexual behavior. Hormonal imbalances, such as an overproduction of testosterone, may also play a role in the development of hypersexuality in some.

Psychological factors

Psychological trauma, such as abuse or neglect, may increase the risk of developing hypersexuality in some. Additionally, mental health conditions, such as anxiety disorder, depression or bipolar disorder may also contribute to the development of compulsive sexual behavior.

If you or a loved one is experiencing abuse, contact the Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). Support is available 24/7.

Social and cultural factors

Societal attitudes towards sex and relationships may influence the development of hypersexuality. For example: Individuals exposed to sexual content at a young age or who grow up in an environment where open discussions about sex are not encouraged may be more likely to develop compulsive sexual behavior as a result.

We do want to note that everyone’s experiences may vary. While the factors listed above may contribute to the formation of hypersexuality, it can be helpful to remember that not everyone who experiences these factors will develop the condition.


Treatment options for hypersexuality

Treatment for hypersexuality disorder may be challenging, as it can involve addressing complex or interconnected issues. However, with the proper treatment approach, it can be possible to manage and reduce compulsive sexual behavior. 

Treatment options for hypersexuality disorder may include:

  • Therapy: Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of therapy that might help manage hypersexuality disorder. CBT generally focuses on identifying and changing negative thoughts and behaviors that can contribute to the condition. Sex therapy can also help address specific sexual concerns and behaviors. Other types of therapy, such as psychodynamic or dialectical behavior therapy, may help address underlying psychological issues that can contribute to the formation of hypersexuality.
  • Medications: Antidepressant medications can help reduce compulsive sexual behavior. Mood stabilizers can also be used to treat hypersexuality. These medications scan provide the most possible benefit when prescribed by a qualified medical professional. 
  • Support from loved ones and self-help groups: Support from loved ones and participation in self-help groups can be helpful for managing hypersexuality in some. Self-help groups might also provide a safe space to discuss experiences and learn coping strategies from others with similar symptoms. These resources can give a sense of community, accountability and practical strategies for managing compulsive sexual behavior.

Clinicians and mental health professionals can help someone living with hypersexuality to determine the best treatment approach for their individual needs and circumstances.

How can online therapy help those living with hypersexuality disorder

There are several possible benefits of using online therapy for treating hypersexuality in some. It may help individuals improve their relationships and overall quality of life, all of which can be supported in the comfort of one’s home or secondary safe space. It can also be a useful tool to set healthy boundaries and repair damaged relationships.

Additionally, it can be difficult to open up regarding symptoms or experiences related to hypersexuality.  Some may appreciate the discretion they can attain as they use online therapy to address their symptoms. 

Are you experiencing hypersexuality?

Is online therapy effective?

Online therapy is a scientifically supported method that can resolve symptoms of hypersexuality in most. In a study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, it was found that online CBT was helpful in limiting instances of sexual stress, promoting a greater sense of psychiatric well-being as self-reported by clinical study participants. Effects were shown to remain 3+ months after treatment.  


By addressing the root causes of compulsive sexual behavior and learning new skills and strategies, individuals with hypersexuality may feel empowered to take control of their lives and find a greater level of happiness and fulfillment. It can be important to remember that treatment for hypersexuality generally should be tailored to the individual's needs—and may include a combination of therapy, medication and lifestyle modifications. Ultimately, with the right help and support, individuals may be able to manage their symptoms and lead fulfilling lives. BetterHelp can connect you with a therapist in your area of need.
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