Sexual addiction is a condition in which an individual cannot manage their sexual behavior. Persistent sexual thoughts affect their ability to work, maintain relationships, and fulfil their daily activities.
Other terms for sexual addiction are sexual dependency, hypersexuality, and compulsive sexual behavior. It is also known as nymphomania in females and satyriasis in men.
While sexual addiction shares some features with substance addiction, the person is addicted to an activity, not a substance. Treatment may help, but without treatment, it may get worse.
An estimated 12 to 30 million people in the United States (U.S.) experience sexual addiction. It affects both men and women.
Fast facts on sexual addiction
Sexual addiction prevents people from managing their sexual behavior. Why it happens is unclear.
It can have a severe impact on a person’s life, but key bodies, such as the American Psychological Association (APA), have not yet established it as a diagnosable condition.
Typical behaviors include compulsive masturbation, persistent use of pornography, exhibitionism, voyeurism, extreme acts of lewd sex, and the failure to resist sexual impulses.
Treatment centers and self-help groups can help with sexual addiction.
What is sexual addiction?
The American Society of Addiction Medicine describes addiction as “a primary, chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory, and related circuitry.”
Sexual addiction is an inability to control sexual urges, leading to impaired relationships and quality of life.
A person with sexual addiction is obsessed with sex or has an abnormally intense sex drive. Their thoughts are dominated by sexual activity, to the point where this affects other activities and interactions. If these urges become uncontrollable, the person can have difficulty functioning in social situations.
In some cases, a person with a healthy and enjoyable sex life may develop an obsession. They may find themselves stimulated by acts and fantasies that most people do not consider acceptable.
In some cases, the person may have a paraphilic disorder, such as pedophilia. This is a diagnosable disorder.
A paraphilic disorder involves sexual arousal caused by stimuli that most people do not find acceptable, for example pedophilia. It involves distress and dysfunction.
Sexual addiction has not been fully established as a medical condition, although it can adversely affect families, relationships, and lives. One difficulty with identifying sexual addiction is that people have different levels of sex drive, or libido. One person may consider their partner a “sex addict” only because they have a higher sex drive.
More research is needed to determine whether or not sexual addiction exists as a disorder.
What is persistent genital arousal disorder (PGAD)?
Persistent genital arousal disorder (PGAD) causes a person to experience orgasm persistently, but without sexual desire. .
The causes of sexual addiction remain unclear.