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.
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.
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.
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.
What are the cons of hypersexuality?
Hypersexuality (also known as compulsive sexual behavior disorder or sexual addiction), can lead to sexual compulsivity, continual and uncontrollable sexual fantasies, engaging in risky sexual behaviors, and difficulties in maintaining stable romantic relationships due to preoccupation with sex.
How do you deal with hypersexuality in a healthy way?
Many people with hypersexuality experience feelings of shame or embarrassment because of their inability to keep their sexual urges under control. However, with the help of psychotherapy and support groups, it’s possible for someone with sex addiction to manage their symptoms and learn to cope in healthy ways.
Is hypersexuality considered a healthy coping mechanism?
No, hypersexuality is not considered a healthy coping mechanism as it is a fixation that may disrupt day to day functioning.
It is not officially classified with the mental disorders in the diagnostic and statistical manual but is often comorbid with other mental health conditions like substance use disorder, ADHD, and depression.
What are some hypersexual triggers?
There are a number of triggers for hypersexual behavior, both external and internal. Some of these include:
- An emotion, sensation, or feeling
- A particular fantasy
- A desire to escape
- Substance use
- A specific place
- A specific person
Should hypersexual disorder be classified as an addiction?
Experts are undecided on how to classify hypersexual disorder. It is not included in the DSM-5, and mental health professionals typically work with it under the umbrellas of behavioral addictions or impulse control disorders.
The ICD-11 classifies compulsive sexual behavior disorder (CSBD) as an impulse control disorder.
Is hypersexuality a trauma response?
Not always, but it can be. Hypersexuality has been linked to trauma (including sexual abuse), and is considered a risk factor. There are also links to neurological disorders, mental health disorders, and genetic factors.
Do you need to be diagnosed with hypersexuality?
Identifying hypersexuality can be complicated since there is no universal protocol for diagnosis. If you suspect that you are experiencing hypersexuality, then a healthcare professional will look for certain signs such as:
- Disruption of daily life by sexual activities
- Inability to stop sexual behaviors, even when trying to
- Withdrawal symptoms
- Loss of pleasure, often a person with hypersexuality will not feel sexual desire or satisfaction, even while indulging in sexual behavior
When does hypersexuality become a problem?
Hypersexuality can be problematic when it begins to interfere with activities of daily living. People who experience hypersexuality may have difficulty controlling their sexual behaviors; indulging in continual and intense sexual fantasies, an intense desire to masturbate, and having risky and compulsive sex even when there are negative repercussions. This disorder can be found in people of any gender, sexual orientation, or culture.
How does hypersexuality affect relationships?
Individuals who experience hypersexuality may engage in repeated sexual relationships involving risky sexual behavior, have multiple sexual partners at a time, or have repeated sexual relationships in which they are not able to make an emotional connection, due to their preoccupation with sex.
High sexual arousal and sexual activity do not necessarily point to hypersexuality or a sexual disorder. Sexual fantasies, urges, and sex with multiple partners can be normal and enjoyable for certain people. A person may have a high sex drive, and be able to control sexual behavior. A person with hypersexuality experiences negative consequences or negative feelings but may still be unable to control their behavior.
Is hypersexuality a behavioral disorder?
Not officially, no. Many mental health professionals use addiction criteria to diagnose hypersexuality, as it’s not considered an official mental health diagnosis in the DSM-5. The ICD-11 classifies compulsive sexual behavior disorder as an impulse control disorder, which a health professional may use for diagnosis.
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