Sex Addiction

By Sarah Fader |Updated April 5, 2022
CheckedMedically Reviewed By Aaron Horn, LMFT

Sex addiction occurs when a person uses sex in a compulsive or dependent manner, regardless of potential negative consequences. Struggling to control your impulses when it comes to sex, however, can lead to serious concerns down the road. While there is some debate about whether it is an addiction or simply a symptom of other mental health conditions, there is plenty of evidence to suggest that sexual addiction is a legitimate concern that requires treatment similar to other addictions. 

What Is Sex Addiction? Signs And Treatment

Sex Addiction is A Serious Condition - Get The Help You Need

People have often downplayed sex addiction, joking about it or trivializing its effects on those living with it. Sex addiction can be an especially difficult condition to cope with alone, so counseling can be a great way of getting help when you’re not sure where to go.

Coping with sex addiction involves more than just deciding to stop. In fact, research has shown that it can function like a drug addiction in terms of how it affects the brain. Recognizing that you live with a sex addiction may prove to be difficult at first. If you notice your sexual habits negatively impacting your life, consider reaching out for professional help.

Some signs of sex addiction include the following:

  • Extramarital or extra-relationship affairs
  • Unsafe sex practices
  • Obsessive dating
  • Excessive self-stimulation
  • Obsessive use of pornography

Most treatment programs for sex addiction focus on separating the person with the addiction from harmful behaviors of sex addiction. Treatment also often delves into the person’s internal thought processes, emotions, and other concerns, such as anxiety, depression, guilt, or shame. Sex addiction is a complex issue, and determining the reasons behind it can take time. This is why people frequently seek the help of dedicated professionals when they are going through sex addiction.

Psychotherapy is one of the primary methods mental health professionals use to help individuals cope with sex addiction. Here are some ways sex addiction therapy is beneficial:

It Helps You Reconnect With Your Partner

Suppose one half of a couple has a sex addiction. In that case, there are some potential issues to discuss, and attending therapy sessions can help the couple work through their feelings and make important decisions regarding their relationship. A sex addiction can put considerable strain on a relationship, particularly when infidelity is involved. 

When someone compulsively desires gratification from sex, it can be challenging for the person’s significant other. Working with a therapist to better understand the condition can be a huge help for both partners.


Over time, it is possible for therapy and other interventions to change things for the better. A healthier relationship with sex has the potential to renew a relationship. When you are dealing with sex addiction and want to strengthen your bond with your significant other, potentially without sex, a professional therapist can help you figure out how to address your concerns and move forward.

You Will Be Able To Distinguish Between Health And Unhealthy Sex

Sex is a completely natural, healthy activity. Yet sex can be a negative thing when excessively pursuing it interferes with everyday life, causes problems in relationships, or leads to unintended health concerns. 

One of the main issues is that people with a sex addiction often become unable to recognize positive versus negative sexual behaviors. In some cases, it limits the ability to appreciate sex in a healthy way.

There are various unhealthy sex addiction behaviors that you may recognize in yourself or others. For example, some people turn to sex to fill a void in their life. It is not uncommon for someone to seek sexual partners after a traumatic event. This, however, can be an unhealthy way of coping with complicated emotions arising from trauma or similar issues. The reality is that these sexual experiences may leave a person feeling even worse and more vulnerable than before.

After going through therapy sessions, it will likely be easier to recognize these potentially damaging behaviors. The goal of therapy for sex addiction is to help individuals control the impulses that lead to unhealthy sexual behavior. 

In some sex addiction programs, the client will attempt to abstain from any sexual activity for a period of 60 to 90 days. This allows the person to go through therapy sessions and contemplate what constitutes healthy sexual behavior and what does not. The client can understand how problematic thoughts and actions surrounding sex have affected their life and work on limiting them in the future. This process often helps boost their self-esteem and general well-being. 

Talking with a therapist can help enormously when it comes to learning how to maintain a healthy relationship with sex.

You Can Gain Control  

Talking one on one with a therapist or participating in group counseling sessions are great ways of helping individuals become less dependent on sex. A 12-step program accompanied by therapy, for example, is a proven method to help overcome sex addiction. It can also help when sex addiction is being used as a coping mechanism for another mental health condition, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, or depression.

If you’re living with sex addiction, know that help is available. An experienced therapist can help you understand how your relationship with sex affects you and guide you on the road to better controlling your addiction.

Coping With Sex Addiction Through BetterHelp

Sex Addiction is A Serious Condition - Get The Help You Need

Studies show that guided online therapy can help those dealing with addiction better understand and cope with their thoughts and behaviors. One study, published in Current Psychiatry Reports — a peer-reviewed medical journal — states that online therapy is an effective treatment for addiction and related symptoms of depression and anxiety. Online interventions can help those coping with sex addiction to create healthier associations with intimacy and relationships while understanding and managing the harmful thoughts that lead to that addiction. Online therapy is widely considered to be a secure, cost-effective, and accessible alternative to in-person treatment.

As stated above, online therapy can be a very useful part of a sex addiction treatment program. If you are uncomfortable discussing this issue in person, BetterHelp allows you to interact with a licensed therapist from the comfort of your own home. You’ll also have the option of remaining completely anonymous if you prefer. Read below for reviews of therapists from those who have sought therapy in the past.

Counselor Reviews

“Carmen is thoughtful and patient and asks questions that get to the heart of the matter. I’ve been to counseling before, and it seems like there was a lot of talking, but I didn’t always leave with tools I could use right away. Carmen provides insight that I can use to work on my concerns right away.”

“Alexis has been amazing. I came to this site very skeptical about what help could be offered. Alexis has helped me navigate through my emotions and struggles very well. I am infinitely grateful for all she has done and keeps doing. Alexis is very friendly and makes me feel comfortable talking about anything. My experience with her has been amazing.”

 

Conclusion

Taking time to reach out for help can make a huge difference. Whether you are going through sex addiction or concerned about your partner or someone else you are close to, help is available. Therapy for sex addiction can help individuals foster healthy relationships with sex and intimacy. Managing a sex addiction may take some time and effort, but progress is certainly possible when you dedicate yourself to the process.

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