Could sex really become an addiction?

Sex addiction

Brief description

  • description: Behavioral addiction, excessive, compulsive sexual activity despite negative consequences
  • Symptoms: constant sexual fantasies, excessive consumption of porn films, frequent masturbation, constantly changing sexual partners, lack of satisfaction, looking for the "kick"
  • causes: Conditioning of the reward center in the brain, impaired impulse control, risk factors are loneliness, low self-esteem, family conflicts
  • diagnosis: Criteria include uncontrollable sexual desire, psychological withdrawal symptoms, development of tolerance, loss of interests, endangerment of relationships, occupation, education
  • treatment: Outpatient behavior therapy, behavior therapy individual and sometimes group sessions
  • forecast: With therapeutic help you can regain control over your sex life

Sex addiction: description

The term sex addiction appears repeatedly in the tabloids in connection with allegedly sex-addicted celebrities. But whether a person is only sexually very active or actually sex addict is often not easy to decide. How often someone has sex during the day or during the week plays a subordinate role.

Loss of control

One can assume pathological or compulsive behavior if the person concerned no longer has their sexual behavior under control, suffers from it and cannot moderate themselves, even though the behavior has negative consequences.

Creeping start

Sex addiction begins insidiously - just like any other addiction. As addiction increases, it limits personal freedom. If it remains untreated over a longer period of time, the personality can even change and health also suffers in the long term from sex addiction.

Similar to an alcohol or drug addict, the brief feeling of elation during sex compensates for an inner emptiness, boredom, fears or self-doubt - but only for a short time. Often the intense feeling of pleasure also diminishes over time. Those affected never really feel satisfied. The consequence: They increase sexual activity and they need more and more frequent and usually more intense sex.

Nymphomania and satyriasis

Sex addiction in women is also known as nymphomania. The corresponding term for sex addiction in men is satyriasis. However, since the terms are used colloquially and vaguely and are also associated with negative ideas and prejudices, they are no longer used in a technical context.

Longing for normality

Sex addiction does not necessarily mean that the person concerned has a particular fetish or a preference for unusual sexual practices. Many of those affected want to enter into a completely normal relationship; they long for a solid bond and romance. But most of the time, they quickly get bored of having sex with the same partner.

Sex addiction: symptoms

A high frequency of sexual activity is also not evidence of sex addiction. It is crucial that sex is compulsively and practiced to a problematic extent despite the negative consequences.

The mind is constantly revolving around the subject of sex. Those affected can no longer control their sexual behavior, neglecting their tasks and other interests. Work and private life, and especially relationships, suffer from compulsive sex.

Symptoms that typically occur in hypersexuality include:

  • Dissolute sexual fantasies, some of which discourage work and everyday obligations
  • often watch porn movies for several hours a day
  • frequent masturbation
  • constantly changing sexual partners
  • lack of satisfaction, search for the "kick"
  • disturbed social behavior and loss of reality (e.g. aggressive behavior towards people who do not correspond to their aesthetic perception)

Mental withdrawal symptoms

In contrast to substance-related addictions such as alcoholism, hypersexual people do not suffer from physical withdrawal symptoms. Psychological withdrawal symptoms such as restlessness, nervousness and irritability occur and are serious because they repeatedly undermine the decision to change obsolescence.

Sex addiction: therapy

The first step in overcoming a sex addiction is realizing that you have a serious problem. A first point of contact can then be a counseling center such as Pro Familia to treat sex addiction.

The aim of hypersexuality therapy is to regain control over sexual behavior and thus curb the destructive effects of sex addiction.

Behavioral Therapy for Sex Addiction

With behavioral support, those affected learn to control their sexual impulses. Therapy takes place in the form of individual therapeutic discussions and group therapeutic sessions. Self-help groups on the subject of sex addiction can also help to overcome this, but are usually not sufficient as a sole measure.

As part of the therapy, those affected find out what role sex plays as an addictive substance for them - for example, raising self-esteem, covering up inner emptiness, overcoming fears - and how they can achieve this in other ways. Affected people learn to accept and endure feelings, to perceive themselves more positively and to improve their self-confidence.

Sexual abstinence is not the goal

Sexual abstinence is not the aim of the therapy. For one, because sexual activity is an important part of life and quality of life. On the other hand, because abstinence does not solve the problem. It is therefore only a matter of time before a relapse into sex addiction occurs. Ultimately, it is a matter of returning those affected to a normal way of dealing with sexuality, which does not determine their entire life.

Sex addiction: diagnosis

The line between a normal, high sex drive and compulsive sexual behavior is difficult. The following is decisive for the diagnosis of hypersexuality:

  • Loss of control over sexual acts and fantasies
  • Inability to change behavior despite negative consequences for yourself and others, e.g. in a partnership, social or professional environment
  • spending a lot of time on sexual acts and fantasies
  • mental withdrawal symptoms associated with sexual abstinence such as restlessness and irritability
  • Suffering from difficult-to-control sexuality

Problems must have persisted for at least six months for a diagnosis of hypersexuality.

Sex addiction test

Various tests are offered on the Internet that can give an indication of a possible problem. However, they cannot replace a professional diagnosis.

The sex addiction tests contain questions, among other things

  • the space that sexuality occupies in your life
  • about risks you take to have sex
  • to problems that your active sex life has already caused them
  • on the number of sexual partners
  • to porn consumption
  • to masturbation behavior

Sex addiction: causes

Sex addiction can have very different causes. Most of the time, multiple triggers come together when an obsessive-compulsive sex drive develops. The causes can be rooted in childhood, in personal experiences with sex, but also in personality, individual disposition and in the socio-cultural environment.

Sex as a drug: Good sex activates the reward center in the brain, much like drugs like alcohol or cocaine can. Especially when sex is used to escape negative feelings such as self-doubt, inner emptiness or worry, there is a greater risk of sliding into a sex addiction.

Sexual abuse: People who have been sexually abused often have a disturbed relationship to sexuality. Some develop a hypersexuality in this context.

Impulse control impaired: Dysfunctional impulse control means that the satisfaction of immediate needs is difficult for a person to postpone. This can include sex drive.

Sex availability on the internet: Porn and potential sexual partners are uncomplicated, anonymous and always available on the Internet. Inhibitions and shame thresholds also seem to be lower in the internet - the instinct can be satisfied immediately, without further obligations and without major feelings of guilt.

Mental illness: Hypersexual behavior can develop as part of an obsessive-compulsive disorder or mania.

Physical illness: Some physical diseases can cause hypersexuality, such as a tumor in the adrenal cortex.

Genetic predisposition: As with substance-related addictions such as alcoholism, behavioral addictions are also partly genetically based on a bit.

Medication: Some drugs increase sexual appetite or interfere with impulse control. These include, for example, certain Parkinson's medications.

drug consumption: The use of drugs, especially cocaine, can induce sex addiction.


Treatment for sex addiction is tedious. But those who get involved have a good chance of regaining control of their love life. It is difficult to overcome a sex addiction without professional support.

Negative consequences of sex addiction

Sex addiction can have a number of negative consequences.

Difficulties in partnership: Constant pressure on the partner to have sex, the imposition of sexual practices or, in particular, infidelities put a considerable strain on a partnership.

Job difficulties: When everything revolves around sex, those affected neglect their tasks. It can also quickly become problematic when sex addiction is acted out at work, sexual harassment of colleagues, porn consumption during working hours, etc.

Criminal offenses: Sex addiction can also lead to criminal behavior, for example in the form of voyeurism or sexual assault.

Self-denial: Those who fail to get their sex addiction under control often suffer from feelings of failure, self-reproach and even self-hatred.

Money problems: Some lose their jobs due to inappropriate sexual behavior. Others spend a lot of money on prostitutes.

Venereal diseases: Frequently changing sexual contacts increase the risk of contracting a sexually transmitted disease.

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