How does sexual addiction occur?
The exact cause of sexual addiction is not known. Experts think it may be caused by physical differences in the brain or nervous system. It might also be related to things such as child abuse or a family history of mental illness.
What are the symptoms of sexual addiction?
Symptoms of sex addiction include:
- being unable to stop thinking about sex
- needing to have sex more and more often
- trying and failing to control, cut back, or stop having sex
- feeling restless or in a bad mood when trying to control sexual urges
- having school, job, or relationship problems because of sex.
Some out of control repetitive behaviors, which may reflect sexual addiction include:
- extramarital affairs
- cyber sex or phone sex
- multiple anonymous partners
- unsafe sexual activity
- thinking of sex partners as just objects to be used
- going to strip clubs and adult bookstores
How is sexual addiction diagnosed?
Your healthcare provider or therapist will ask about your symptoms and will make sure you do not have a medical problem. Your therapist will also check for other problems, such as substance abuse, mood disorders, and personality disorders.
How is sexual addiction treated?
Treatment for sexual addiction is long-term and ongoing. Good options include self-help groups, support groups, or supervised treatment programs. Cognitive behavior therapy may also help.
Female hormones or testosterone-lowering medicines may be used to reduce sex drive in men. SSRI antidepressants may reduce sex drive and lessen obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors. Mood stabilizers or antipsychotic medicines may also be helpful.
When should I seek help?
Thinking about sex all the time may cause loss of friendships and family relationships. Fear of being caught may cause stress. Sexual addiction also increases the risks for HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases. Sex addiction may cause job loss or high levels of debt from paying for prostitutes, cyber-sex, or phone sex. People who are addicted to sex may have legal problems due to sexual harassment, obscene phone calls, prostitution, rape, or child molesting.