Compulsive sexual behavior is known by many terms. Psychologists may refer to it as problematic sexual behaviors. In other circles, it is called either hypersexuality or excessive sexuality. Other specialists refer to it as sex addiction.
No matter what it’s called, compulsive sexual behavior generally refers to intense, excessive, and repetitive preoccupation with sex, either in terms of fantasies, urges or behaviors. Here are five things you need to know about compulsive sexual behavior.
#1 Two Categories
There are two general types of compulsive sexual behavior. The first is one is called paraphilic compulsive sexual behavior, while the second one is called non-paraphilic. In the eyes of society, the paraphilic hypersexuality is the worse of the two. Paraphilic behaviors are usually considered socially unacceptable.
For instance, it may involve non-human objects, such as having sex with a bottle. Although sex dolls are common and readily available online nowadays, in many cultures and countries, having sex with a doll is still not considered as a normal sexual behavior.
If you were to ask about the difference in fetishism and paraphilia, fetishism is actually considered a form of paraphilia. However, fetishism is not considered a clinical disorder unless it causes significant distress or if it greatly interferes with the normal social and sexual functioning of the individual.
To illustrate, there’s a big difference in wanting to see your partner wearing red high heels while making love with you and uncontrollably masturbating anytime you see a woman in red high heels, even if it’s on a crowded street in broad daylight.
Other types of paraphilia include sadism, masochism, or a mix of the two. Pedophilia and exhibitionism are also considered as forms of paraphilia. For the last two examples, they are almost always diagnosed as clinical disorders or are accompanied with other clinical or mental disorders such as obsessive-compulsive behavior or depression.
Non-paraphilic compulsive sexual behaviors, on the other hand, are not as socially repugnant as paraphilic sexual behaviors. Sexual desires involved in non-paraphilic behaviors are more typical, although not necessarily healthy. For instance, compulsive masturbation is considered as a non-paraphilic compulsive sexual behavior.
Other examples of non-paraphilic sexual behaviors include the use of pornography, engaging in various sexual acts with a consensual partner, having multiple partners, or a fixation on a person who is not attainable as a sexual partner. The key here is that the behavior has to be compulsive.
#2 Prevalence Of Compulsive Sexual Behavior
Scientists and researchers alike are having difficulties in determining the prevalence of compulsive sexual behaviors. Results in various studies vary from just 2% to more than 20%. This may be because of the shame or embarrassment that people with compulsive sexual behaviors feel about discussing their condition with other people.
Various studies also have conflicting results on whether compulsive sexual behavior is more prevalent in men or in women. Older studies say that men are more prone to developing compulsive sexual behaviors and that it usually starts during late adolescence.
In recent years, however, with the advent of internet-based surveys wherein the participant’s anonymity is protected, more and more women are disclosing their sexual urges, thoughts, and behaviors. Nevertheless, specialists have yet to determine whether gender plays a role in how compulsive sexual behavior should be treated.
#3 Elements Of Compulsive Sexual Behavior
According to experts, compulsive sexual behavior can be broken down into three elements. The first refers to repeated sexual fantasies. The second element involves repeated sexual urges. Lastly, there’s also the matter of repeated sexual behaviors.
The most common types of compulsive sexual behaviors include excessive masturbation, use of pornographic materials, and promiscuity or having multiple partners. There are also cases wherein these compulsive behaviors are accompanied by psychiatric disorders like depression.
#4 Factors That May Lead To Compulsive Sexual Behaviors
Impulse control disorders may also accompany hypersexuality and the same goes for substance abuse. However, happiness or loneliness may also trigger compulsive sexual behavior. Family history may also be a factor, such as when one or both parents are drug addicts.
Aside from drug addiction, impulse disorders, and family history, researchers are also looking into child abuse as a factor that may cause one to develop compulsive sexual behaviors. Having a dysfunctional family is also considered as another factor.
Other factors that may cause compulsive sexual behaviors include imbalances in the neurotransmitters and chemicals in the brain. Brain disorders such as Parkinson’s disease may also result in compulsive sexual behaviors.
In fact, studies have shown that patients suffering from Parkinson’s disease who are treated with dopamine agonist medications often show signs of hypersexuality. Compulsive sexual behavior is also associated with other medical conditions for which dopamine agonist medications are the primary treatment. These include restless leg syndrome, prolactinoma, and even hypogonadism.
#5 Effects Of Compulsive Sexual Behavior
Compulsive sexual behavior is associated with many medical conditions such as sexually transmitted diseases and even HIV. Most people who have compulsive sexual behaviors do not protect themselves when having sex, which is why they are prone to sexually transmitted infections.
Unwanted pregnancy is also a common result of hypersexuality in women. It can also result in physical trauma such as injuries to the anus or vagina due to repeated sexual acts. Since compulsive sexual behavior is often accompanied by depression, suicide ideation and attempts are also commonly associated with compulsive sexual behavior.
Recent studies on hypersexuality are focused on the link between compulsive sexual behavior and cognitive function. The results of these studies indicate that cognitive dysfunction such as maladaptive cognitive processes and decreased mindfulness may lead to hypersexuality.
For people with severe compulsive sexual behaviors, adverse consequences often follow. Losing one’s partner or family is a common consequence, especially for married people who are compulsively engaged in multiple sexual relationships.
If the compulsive sexual behavior involves exhibitionism, it can easily lead to being arrested or imprisoned. The risks are even higher for those with pedophilia. Unfortunately, in many of these cases, those suffering from compulsive sexual behavior are either unaware of or do not care anymore about the consequences of their actions.