How To Tell If You May Have Hypersexuality Disorder
By: Robert Porter
Updated October 14, 2021
Medically Reviewed By: Stephanie Chupein
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.
What Is Hypersexuality?
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.
What Causes 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:
- Mental health conditions. People who live with Bipolar disorder, for example, may experience hypersexuality during a hypomanic or manic episode. Borderline personality disorder and gambling disorder may also put someone at a higher risk.
- Substance use*. Those living with substance use disorders are statistically more likely to experience hypersexuality or hypersexuality disorder.
- Studies show that those who have experienced abuse** are more likely to experience hypersexuality.
- Hormonal differences.
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.
Indicators of Hypersexuality Disorder
People with hypersexuality disorder can have varying degrees or combinations of the symptoms listed below.
- Excessive masturbation is one of the most common early signs of hypersexuality. Those with hypersexuality disorder may masturbate multiple times per day or engage in other sexual behaviors such as watching pornography while simultaneously engaging in phone sex.
- Having obsessive thoughts that interfere with daily life is another common symptom. People with hypersexuality disorder may fantasize and have sexual thoughts that become consuming. They may begin to close themselves off from their loved ones, lose focus, become uninterested in other hobbies, and stop communicating with immediate family members.
- Those with hypersexuality disorder may spend a lot of time planning sexual activities, including where to watch pornography, when to masturbate, and excessive interaction with sex workers or possible sexual partners. Similarly, they may spend a lot of time planning sexual activities with their partner and being adamant about sticking to that schedule.
- They may frequently use sex services such as web chat, phone sex operators, webcam shows, and porn sites, or regularly watch sexually explicit movies and television shows.
- People with hypersexuality disorder may have ongoing extramarital affairs, frequent one-night stands, and multiple concurrent sexual partners. They may also be emotionally detached from sexual partners and have sex frequently without protection.
- Obsessing about someone you cannot have sex with is another sign of a hypersexuality disorder. When someone is unattainable, such as someone married, uninterested, or inappropriate, someone with hypersexuality may engage in risky and sometimes violent behavior to try sex with the person. This fixation can also lead to cyberstalking and spying. Note that this is not true for everyone living with hypersexuality disorder or experiencing hypersexuality, nor is hypersexuality an excuse for harming or putting others at risk in any case.
- Feeling as though you're unable to control thoughts or urges even though they're negatively impacting your life.
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:
- Separation from the maladaptive activity or behavior
- Reducing or managing sexual urges
- Identifying triggers for sexual impulses
- Dealing with the emotional aspects of sex 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.
When You Should See a Doctor
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:
- Does it feel challenging to manage my sexual impulses?
- Are my sexual behaviors distressing to myself or others?
- Are my relationships strained or affected by my behavior?
- Is my work being affected by my behavior?
- Is my sexual behavior something I try to hide or feel ashamed of?
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.
Please take the time to look at some BetterHelp counselor reviews. Others have gone through similar struggles and have been able to solve their issues with the assistance of these compassionate professionals.
"My situation seemed so different before I began working with Pat. She's there completely. She's giving me different ways to cope or approach the same situation and get a different response from a situation that had me feeling trapped. She gives me ways to keep myself healthy and make sure I'm taking care of myself. I'm so relieved to have found BetterHelp but mostly that they were able to get me to Pat; that will continue to help me find me again."
"Amy has been very insightful, offering the right series of skills to help me take control of my thinking and emotions. She is supportive and always responds from a place of reflection and non-judgment, giving me greater insight into solving my problems better than stress further. Highly recommend her to anyone, especially if you're feeling "stuck" in life's patterns."
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.
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