Hypersexuality – colloquially sex addiction – describes an increased desire for sex or sexual acts. Medicine, psychology and sexology have increasingly been dealing with this topic in recent years. The causes are of different nature, it is difficult to differentiate between what is still healthy and what is already unhealthy behavior.
What is sex addiction?
There is no scientific definition for the term sex addiction. Only the increased sexual desire as a sexual disorder is recognized. For club hand in dictionary, please visit dictionaryforall.com.
Whether or not there is a sex addiction is mainly defined by the feelings of the person concerned. There is no specification as to when sex becomes too much, so the question is whether the person concerned has a problem with his or her behavior. People who suffer from sex addiction have an exaggerated, extreme urge for sexual activity that restricts them in their lives.
The thoughts of those affected no longer revolve around anything else, they are only on the search and can no longer enjoy anything else. Sex addicts are often limited in their ability to have orgasms and bond, leading them to keep looking.
The exact causes of sex addiction are not known. It is clear, however, that it is always a question of the interaction of several factors. In rare cases, there are physical causes that can lie in a tumor in the adrenal cortex.
Various mental illnesses, such as mania, can also be the cause. Since sexuality is also learned, family factors play a role. It is striking that sex addicts often come from families in which alcohol abuse or other addictions exist. It has been proven that addictive behavior has a genetic disposition.
During sex, messenger substances are released in the body that have a positive effect on mood. Many sex addicts also increase the release of endogenous drugs through games that involve fear or risk. Childhood abuse can also be a cause of sex addiction. Those affected have learned that they can solve problems with sex and are available to their partners without really perceiving their own needs.
Even an overwhelming, positive experience in early sexual experiences can trigger a sex addiction. Affected people are constantly looking for the repetition of this feeling.
Symptoms, Ailments & Signs
Signs of sex addiction is primarily the constant desire for sexual contact. The desire is not satisfied by an experienced sexual act, but the desire for more sex remains permanently. This often causes problems in a relationship. If the sex drive of both partners is permanently incompatible with each other, sooner or later dissatisfaction will set in.
A typical symptom of an addiction is the desire, in this case for sex, which cannot be controlled rationally. Many people affected by sex addiction visit to live out their desire for sexual contact outside of an existing partnership. If the partner does not consider this to be legitimate, the consequences are usually jealousy, breach of trust and separation.
But even those affected by sex addiction who do not live in a partnership sometimes take certain risks. Having a high number of sexual partners puts you at risk of contracting an STD. In order to avoid the resulting symptoms, those affected must pay attention to the strict use of condoms.
The same applies to the development of an unwanted pregnancy. Sex addiction is usually limited to the constant acting out of the physical urge, but does not necessarily include the desire for a permanent partnership or children. In order to spare everyone involved from emotional problems, reliable contraception is essential for sex addiction.
Diagnosis & History
A sex addiction increases over the years. It is typical that sexuality becomes less and less satisfying, its influence on everyday life increasing. The urge to act out sexuality is becoming increasingly difficult to control.
Typical signs are:
- More and more thoughts revolve around sex. More and more sex is also practiced. If this no longer takes place, fear and inner emptiness arise.
- Those affected have problems in their partnerships, an increased risk of infection with sexually transmitted diseases, and financial and professional difficulties often arise.
- There is a loss of control over behavior. Those affected try to increase their sexual activities, fail because of their lack of satisfaction and ultimately engage in compulsive behavior that they can no longer break out of.
- Sex addicts try to resolve conflicts and negative emotions through sex. This only succeeds in the short term, often followed by feelings of guilt.
- Sexuality determines the entire life of the person concerned, other duties are completely neglected.
- Sexual pleasure is often disturbed.
Sex addiction leads to complications on several levels. For example, the constant pursuit of addiction (with the appropriate opportunity) leads to increasing tolerance. The situation here is similar to that of addictive substances: the original stimulus is no longer sufficient to satisfy the addiction and so more extreme stimuli are sought.
This can manifest itself in acting out harsher sexual practices, but it can also end in sexual harassment, rape or even a sexually associated homicide. In such cases, sex addiction has corresponding legal consequences for those affected.
It is particularly serious when sex addicts also have a paraphilia (pedophilia, coprophilia). Due to the lack of opportunities to express themselves, those affected develop evasive behavior (intensive consumption of partly illegal pornography, visits to prostitutes who fulfill their wishes) and can also cross legal borders here.
Conversely, there are cases in which sex addiction can be seen as the basis for prostitution. In such cases, treating the sex addiction is tantamount to losing one’s financial basis. Social descent is possible due to sex addiction. It can be caused by infidelities, financial ruin or criminal offenses in this context.
In addition, sexually very active people are generally more likely to develop venereal diseases if adequate protection is not taken into account during the act.
When should you go to the doctor?
Sex addiction creates distress over time and this is the right time to seek medical help. At the latest when the person concerned realizes that he is addicted to sex and therefore makes decisions that are not in his best interests, a doctor should be consulted. However, the psychological strain associated with sex addiction occurs much earlier, before the person concerned begins to suffer from his or her illness, namely in the people directly affected by the sex addiction. These can be changing or permanent sexual partners. That alone can be enough for sex addicts to get help, even if they don’t suffer from the situation themselves – they suffer from harming other people, which they don’t want to do.
Anyone who can already accept help at this point is making the right decision for themselves and others. If sex addiction is suspected, the contact person can be the family doctor, but specialists such as gynecologists or urologists will also be able to take care of the problem. Ultimately, the treatment will have to be done by a psychologist or naturopath. If you want to contact them directly, you can do that too, but you will have to wait a while for an appointment or pay the costs yourself. In addition, there are also good self-help groups for sex addicts who can make a valuable contribution to treatment or bridge waiting times.
Treatment & Therapy
If the person concerned is able to recognize their situation and also feels a correspondingly high level of suffering, therapy can help. Cognitive behavioral therapy is most commonly used. Those affected learn and understand how they got into sex addiction, what the personal causes are and how they can change their behavior.
In some cases, psychotropic drugs are used. The problem is that far too few therapists have really had experience in the treatment of sex addiction. Mental illnesses other than sex addiction may need treatment. The therapy pursues the goal of being able to experience intimacy without the connection with sexuality, which is why most therapies initially work with a phase of sexual abstinence, in which there are neither sexual acts with oneself nor with a partner.
The meaning of this is that negative feelings arise in the person concerned, which can be worked through. Building a healthy relationship with yourself is paramount, as the relationship with yourself shapes relationships with others.
Preventing sex addiction is basically impossible. The only thing that can help is to examine yourself, your sexual behavior, your relationships with partners and ask yourself whether your lifestyle is healthy, whether it differs from other people’s lifestyles, whether you have a problem with it and if so why.
Some ex-sex addicts attend a self-help group after therapy to talk to others who have been addicted. Such groups can provide a space to speak openly about the taboo subject of sex addiction. Group participants often support each other by giving each other tips or offering new perspectives. An essential function of self-help groups is to relieve oneself psychologically.
Counseling centers play an important role in outpatient aftercare after sex addiction therapy. Some of these organize self-help groups or other discussion groups. Some counseling centers also offer one-on-one talks, which can take place regularly or as needed.
Specialized contact points for sex addicts are rare – although some addiction counseling centers offer groups and talks for behavioral addicts. In addition to gaming and Internet addicts, these also include sex addicts. Interested parties should, however, ask the respective provider in individual cases whether a specific aftercare offer is suitable for them.
In addition to counseling centers, there are outpatient clinics or specialist outpatient clinics and clinics that sometimes have similar outpatient services. Some clinics have their own aftercare program that patients can switch to after a stay in the clinic.
Sex addiction often leads to relationship conflicts. If the partnership problems have not yet been adequately addressed in therapy, it can make sense to continue working on the partnership after the actual treatment – if necessary with the support of a consultant, coach or therapist.
You can do that yourself
Most important is the acknowledgment that sex addiction causes problems. If this basic requirement is not met, experience has shown that a patient will not consistently adhere to a treatment. This also means that the goal of self-treatment, namely controlling one’s own sexuality, cannot be achieved.
It is recommended to exchange information with the direct environment and other affected persons. As with alcoholism, there is an increased risk of relapse. Openness can be difficult at first. This is especially true when it comes to your partner. It is important not to make certain behaviors taboo. Group sessions have proven to be successful. Several patients take part in these, describe their experiences and develop coping strategies. The continuous discussion should lead to an improvement.
In extreme cases, sex addiction can even lead to criminal offences. Voyeurism and exhibitionism represent forms that hurt other people. If they have occurred, patients should not refrain from self-treatment; however, the focus must be on professional therapy. In these cases, a stage has been reached that is deeply rooted in the psyche and requires medical supervision.