Most common among men, the main symptom of sex addiction is an overwhelming desire to have sex. Sexual behavior becomes a problem and is considered an addiction when it is repeated often enough to interfere with normal daily living, and when it interferes with relationships, work, friendships and lifestyle.
There is a line between enjoying sex and its peripheral pleasures and sexual addiction. In sexual addiction, long periods of time are given over to sex-related activities. Sex addicts feel unable to control sexual behavior or even reduce its frequency. People with sexual addiction behavior often use sex as an escape from other problems such as anxiety, stress, depression and social isolation.
Other names for sexual addiction
Nymphomania, hypersexuality, erotomania, perversion, sexual obsession, sexual addiction.
Signs and symptoms of compulsive sexual behavior
- Having multiple sexual partners or extramarital affairs.
- Engaging in sex with many anonymous partners or prostitutes. Sex addicts treat sexual partners as objects rather than social intimates that are only used for sex.
- Engaging in excessive masturbation, as often as 10 to 20 times a day.
- Using pornographic materials a lot. Using chat rooms or on line pornography or sex chat phone lines excessively.
- Engaging in types of sexual behavior that you would not have considered acceptable before. Examples are masochistic or sadistic sex. Sometimes more extreme forms of sexual behavior are engaged in, for example pedophilia, bestiality, rape.
- Exposure in public.
Causes of sexual addiction
There are a number of theories on why sexual addiction occurs, including psychological and emotional difficulties, personality disorder, as a coping mechanism, or as a result of childhood trauma. In some forms of mental illness, such as depression, bipolar disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder, sexual addiction can be a feature.
Rarely, some neurological disorders can rarely result in sexual addictions. These include epilepsy, head injury and dementia.
Some drugs have been found to cause hypersexuality, including apomorphine and dopamine replacement therapy.
Problematic effects of compulsive sexual behavior
Sexual addiction can cause a vicious circle of low self-esteem, anxiety and depression. Although excessive sex can bring short-term relief, the harm to the psychological well-being of the individual and to their relationships means intervention is required to bring the problem back into their control.
Someone with a sexual addiction often puts his physical health at risk because of his behavior; for example, he's at greater risk of contracting a sexually transmitted diseases (STD) or HIV/AIDS. In addition, such behavior may be connected to alcoholism or other drug addictions, or place the person at greater risk of violence.
Getting help for addictive sexual behavior
An intense preoccupation with sex that results in unacceptable or highly deviant sexual behavior requires treatment from an expert in the field. An evaluation by a psychologist, psychiatrist or sex therapist can be done on an out-patient basis. Treatment may depend on the cause. Behavioral treatments have been found to be helpful. A doctor may be able to treat depressive aspects of sexual addiction with medication.
The first point of contact can be your family doctor or local psychiatric services, who offer specialists in sexual behavior disorder. Marital therapy may also be helpful
Article Upadated 04/08/2006