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Compulsive Sexual Behavior - Causes, Symptoms, Risk Factors, Diagnosis, Treatment and Prevention

Published on May 23, 2022   -  7 min read


Compulsive sexual behavior is an unhealthy sexual obsessiveness that causes significant personal distress. Read the article below to know more.


What Is Compulsive Sexual Behavior?

Compulsive sexual behavior is a term used to describe an unhealthy obsession with sexual activity and behavior that is often difficult to control. It can cause some distress to the affected person and destroy relationships and other aspects of life.

What Are Some Other Names for Compulsive Sexual Behavior?

Compulsive sexual behavior is also referred to as:

Who Is Affected by Compulsive Sexual Behavior?

How Is Compulsive Sexual Behavior Classified?

Compulsive sexual behavior is classified as:

Compulsive sexual behavior

Paraphilic Behaviors: Behaviors that fall outside of the norm for sexual behaviors.

These include:

Non-Paraphilic Behaviors:This refers to the frequent practice of common sexual behaviors, including:

What Causes Compulsive Sexual Behavior?

What Are the Risk Factors for Compulsive Sexual Behavior?

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Compulsive Sexual Behavior?

How Is Compulsive Sexual Behavior Diagnosed?

1. Psychological Evaluation: A psychological evaluation performed by the doctor or therapist will usually involve diagnosis based on criteria as per the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), a publication of the American Psychiatric Association (APA).

2. Screening Instruments: Screening instruments are usually questionnaires that assess addiction based on the patient's responses. This can often mean that misdiagnosis is possible since the questionnaires rely on the patient's honesty. Some of the screening tests that might be used are:

How Is Compulsive Sexual Behavior Managed?

Management of compulsive sexual behavior would rely on psychosocial therapy, pharmacotherapy, and self-help.

1. Psychosocial Therapy: Psychosocial treatment programs for compulsive sexual behavior are usually directed at identifying the beliefs and triggers that influence sexual urges. They also help to identify better alternatives and coping strategies.

The commonest psychosocial approaches are:

2. Pharmacotherapy: Medications have not yet been explicitly approved for compulsive sexual behavior. However, certain drugs used for different disorders might help with symptomatic treatment and treatment of underlying conditions:

3. Self-help: Self-help would generally involve reaching out for help to self-help groups that may be conducted anonymously online or in person and provide:

4. Surgery: This option is a rarely-used last resort. It involves castration to reduce testosterone levels and decrease urges. A surgical approach is helpful in those with paraphilic compulsive sexual behaviors rather than non-paraphilic compulsive sexual behaviors. It is mainly preferred for criminal offenders to discourage them from performing the same acts again.

How Can Compulsive Sexual Behavior Be Prevented?

Compulsive sexual behavior cannot be ascribed to a specific cause and is therefore difficult to prevent. However, certain practices and self-regulatory techniques can make a difference:

What Are the Complications of Compulsive Sexual Behavior?

Compulsive sexual behavior can affect the emotional, mental, interpersonal, and professional aspects of individual personalities and relationships:

1. Personal:

2. Interpersonal:


Struggling with compulsive sexual behavior can be difficult and lead to breakdowns in personal and interpersonal emotions and relationships. Therefore, it is essential to seek treatment if the behavior becomes a serious issue and to maintain an open, positive approach that will help to identify alternatives and adaptive techniques.

Frequently Asked Questions


How to Manage Compulsive Sexual Behavior?

Management of compulsive sexual behavior includes the following options:


- Valproic acid.

- Lithium.

- Naltrexone.

- Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).

- Nefazodone.

- Medroxyprogesterone acetate.

- Cyproterone acetate.

- Topiramate.

Psychosocial Therapy:

- Cognitive-behavioral therapy.

- Acceptance and commitment therapy.

- Psychodynamic psychotherapy.

- Family therapy.

- Couples therapy.


- Obtaining resources for information, coping strategies, relapse support, behavioral change techniques, and general help and support.


What Disorder Is Hypersexuality a Symptom Of?

Hypersexuality occurs mainly as a result of neurological disorders that can cause an imbalance of neurotransmitters. It is commonly found as a symptom of the following disorders:

Hypomania or mania associated with schizoaffective or bipolar disorders.

- Alzheimer’s disease.

- Dementia.

- Anxiety.

- Depression.

- Kleine-Levin syndrome.


Is Compulsive Sexual Behavior the Same as Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder?

Compulsive sexual behavior can occur concurrently with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Typically, it may occur along with other impulse-control, obsessive-compulsive, or mood disorders in OCD.


Has Sexual Obsession Been Classified as a Mental Illness?

Sexual obsession is classified as a subcategory of mental health disorders like behavioral addictions and impulse-control disorders. The World Health Organization (WHO) considers sexual obsession a mental health disorder.


How to Deal With Unwanted Sexual Desire?

Immediate ways to deal with unwanted sexual desires include the following options:

- Change of environment.

- Recreational activities.

- Stress management.

- Relaxation techniques.

- Exercise.

- Cold showers.

- Identify triggers and find ways to divert attention when confronted with these triggers.


Is Hypersexuality Considered an Addictive Behavior?

Hypersexuality or compulsive sexual behavior or sexual addiction is a form of addiction that involves excessive, uncontrollable preoccupation with sexual thoughts, fantasies, and behaviors that causes personal and interpersonal distress and affects personal and professional lives and relationships.


What Does Sexual Masochism Mean?

Sexual masochism refers to the act of experiencing sexual arousal from humiliation and pain. These may be a consequence of activities such as beating, binding, or sexual torture of some form. Deriving pleasure from pain, degradation, and self-denial are the hallmarks of a masochistic person. When this pleasure is rooted in sexual arousal, it is understood to be a form of masochism (the commonest form) called sexual masochism.

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Last reviewed at:
23 May 2022  -  7 min read




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