Are You Engaging in Compulsive Sexual Behaviour?
There are many conditions that affect sexual health, but fewer that also have an impact on your mental wellness. This is the case with compulsive sexual behaviour, which is actually classified as a mental disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). Also known as hypersexuality, hypersexual disorder, nymphomania or sexual addiction, compulsive sexual behaviour is an obsession with sexual thoughts, feelings and behaviours that affect all aspects of your wellbeing.
If you suffer from hypersexual disorder, this may mean you have fantasies or enjoy activities outside the bounds of culturally, legally or morally accepted sexual behaviour, or you may have had a normally enjoyable sexual experience that has now become an obsession. Regardless of the exact nature of the behaviour, untreated compulsive sexual behaviour can damage your health, job, relationships, self-esteem and other parts of your life. However, there are treatment and self-help tools available to help you manage compulsive sexual behaviour and keep your urges in check.
When generally acceptable sexual acts are taken to an extreme, it becomes a problem when they become an obsession that’s disruptive or harmful to you or others. These paraphilias vary in type and severity, ranging from compulsive cross-dressing to having sexual desires toward children (paedophilia). But how do you know if you’re struggling with compulsive sexual behaviour?
1. You have intense sexual impulses that feel as if they’re beyond your control.
2. Even though you feel driven to do certain sexual behaviours, the activity isn’t always a source of pleasure or satisfaction.
3. You have other problems – such as loneliness, depression, anxiety or stress – from which you use compulsive sexual behaviour as an escape.
4. In spite of serious consequences – such as getting or giving someone else a sexually transmitted infection, the loss of important relationships, trouble at work, or legal problems – you continue to engage in risky sexual behaviours.
5. Even if you’re married or in a committed relationship, you have trouble establishing and maintaining emotional closeness.
If any of this sounds familiar, it may be time to consult a medical health professional. It’s best to see a doctor as soon as possible, as compulsive sexual behaviour tends to become more intense and difficult to control over time. You may think you can control your urges via sheer force of will, but these urges can be too powerful even with the greatest dedication and willpower. If you’re deciding whether to seek professional help, ask yourself:
- Can you control your sexual impulses?
- Is your sexual behaviour hurting your relationships, affecting your work or resulting in negative consequences, such as getting arrested?
- Is sex constantly on your mind, even when you don’t want to think about it?
- Do you try to hide your sexual behaviour?
If you’ve answered yes to these questions, you should speak to a doctor. Moreover, if you think you may cause harm with uncontrolled sexual behaviour, are suicidal or you have bipolar disorder or other problems with impulse control, and you feel like your sexual behaviour is slipping out of control, it is absolutely crucial that you seek immediate medical help. Treatment for compulsive sexual behaviour typically involves psychotherapy, medications and self-help groups. The primary aim of these treatments is to help you to maintain healthy sexual activities while managing your urges and reducing your excessive behaviours. This might involve inpatient treatment, at least in the initial stages, but whether it’s inpatient or outpatient, treatment may be intense at first, and you may find periodic, ongoing treatment through the years may help to prevent relapses.