Hypersexuality is the loss of control over sexual fantasy. The correct explanation for hypersexuality is sexual thoughts and behaviors, or uncontrollable sexual impulses. It is commonly known as compulsive sexual behavior disorder or Hypersexual disorder and even sometimes referred to as sex addiction.
What Causes Hypersexuality?
There isn’t enough research conducted on hypersexuality but clinicians suggest that the following might be its causes:
- A chemical imbalance in the brain – Dopamine is a neurotransmitter or a chemical signal that is most commonly associated with the feeling of being rewarded, including sexual activities. Dopamine imbalance can cause hypersexuality.
- Injury to the brain – Injuries to the brain have noted quite distinct changes in behaviour, mostly aggressive and overly sexual behaviour. Research indicates that the temporal lobe is associated with sexual behaviour and any injury to this part of the brain may lead to sudden changes in sexual appetite (usually extreme changes).
- Genetic history(heredity) mental illness – If your family history has a disposition towards mental illnesses then you are more likely to be affected by mental disorders such as hypersexuality.
- Exposure to sexual abuse or violence as a child – Sexual abuse and violence are traumatic experiences that leave can leave a permanent mark and proves to be extremely damaging during the formative years. This trauma can manifest into hypersexuality or other issues.
- Medications – Medications used for Parkinson’s may also cause a dopamine imbalance.
The Effects of Hypersexuality
Hypersexual disorder can have many negative consequences that affect both you and others. You can suffer from guilt, shame, and low self-esteem. It develops other mental illnesses such as depression, suicide, severe distress, and anxiety.
Diagnosing and Treating Hypersexual disorder
Currently Hypersexual disorder is categorized under behavioral addiction or Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and similar criteria is used to diagnose hypersexuality.
There are several self-assessment tests online that will help you understand and describe some of the symptoms you might be experiencing. It can narrow down any concerns or even recommend if a mental health professional is necessary.
There are many scales or tests created by professionals to measure hypersexuality. One of these tests is an excellent online resource known as the Sexual Addiction Screening Test (SAST). It is a 45-question long test that covers everything related to sexual addiction and hypersexuality.
A score from this test can indicate if you have a hypersexual disorder.
Hypersexual disorder is usually treated with psychotherapy or cognitive behavioural therapy along with medications. This makes therapy more effective in some cases.
Psychotherapy is a type of talk therapy which is mostly used for a broad range of mental illness and also for everyday life. It is generally considered a long-term form of therapy. It tends to look at the patient’s history.
Whereas Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is known to be more effective as it is more targeted. It has specific goals such as correcting negative in these sessions, mostly within a short period of time.
Therapy is only effective if a patient wishes to get better. Therefore, complete participation in therapy and doing the follow up exercises provided are crucial for improvement.
Living with Hypersexuality
Most intimate relationships are extremely fragile, necessitating a careful emotional and physical balance between partners to create long-term harmony. Although tastes and inclinations vary greatly, sex addict behaviour has a huge potential to generate rifts in relationships, especially among partners who sincerely care about each other.
Relationships are vulnerable to most sorts of addictions, as one partner may feel ostracized or abused by the other as they pursue their addiction’s goal. Most spouses find it particularly challenging to manage with a sex addict because the condition’s symptoms directly touch many emotional emotions, including jealously.
Even though they are aware that their pursuit of sex will certainly involve neglect, lying, spending money irresponsibly, and significant chances of contracting sexual illnesses and causing unplanned pregnancies, sex addicts find it difficult or impossible to stay committed to their spouses. Any of the aforementioned could lead to emotions of estrangement, despair, betrayal, shame, and wrath in their spouses. These, in turn, can encourage the sex addict’s spouse to engage in dangerous behaviours, exacerbating the situation even further.
In such a setting, even the best intentions and sympathy will be tested, and relationships with sex addicts frequently result in agony and regret on both sides.
Fortunately, such outcomes are not inevitable, since sex addiction treatment can help sex addicts regain control over their desires and stop the downward spiral into addiction.
Why is Hypersexual disorder not added to DSM5 as another category of sexual disorders?
DSM stands for Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Illness. It provides a list of symptoms for identifying and classifying mental disorders.
As DSM5 (5th edition) does not contain “hypersexuality”, it will be more difficult to diagnose. This causes a lack of awareness of the problem.
This debate has been led by many authors who rejected the idea of hypersexuality. They believe that sexual desire should not be restricted. Hypersexuality is only a reflection of our cultural beliefs and dislike towards sexual desire as a society.
An important thing to keep in mind is that behaviours that interfere with daily activities require the attention of a mental health professional.
Symptoms of hypersexuality may include:
- Compulsive sexual fantasises and thoughts
- Obsession or thinking about sex all the time
- Uncontrollable urges to sexual behaviour even at times illegal sexual behaviour
- Excessive masturbation and porn use which can lead to soreness of genitals
- Inability to form stable relationships especially with romantic partners
- Engaging in repeated sexual behaviour that has brought on harm to oneself and to others
Hypersexual disorder as a symptom for other diseases
Most commonly Hypersexual disorder is known to appear as a symptom of a bigger issue. Some diseases that show Hypersexual disorder as a symptom are:
- Borderline Personality Disorder: emotional instability and feelings of worthlessness and insecurity
- Alzheimer’s: progressive disorder that causes the death of brain cells and is the most common cause of dementia (memory loss)
- Dementia: A few causes of dementia: injury to the brain, tumours
Hypersexuality in Men
Hypersexual disorder is most noted and studied in men. Hypersexuality in men has been linked to extreme sexual behavior and even criminal acts. In men, it can most often be seen as:
- Overuse of pornography
- Excessive masturbation
- Lack of interest in aspects other than sexual acts
- Phone sex
- Meeting prostitutes
- Other behaviours that may cause financial loss
Treatment for hypersexuality in Males
- Anti-depressants: Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are widely used as antidepressants. Anti-depressants have been known to improve hypersexuality and other disorders that are caused by a chemical imbalance or psychological reasons.
- Anti-androgens: Androgens are sex hormones that help to develop male characteristics
Hypersexual disorder in Woman
Due to cultural biases and stigma around sexual desire, people tend to ignore Hypersexual disorder in women and hence it has not been studied widely.
In women it can be seen as:
- Excessive masturbation and porn use
- A high number of sexual partners
Remember all these signs and symptoms are not just found separately but they are linked with a lack of intimacy in their relationships.
Please visit a mental health professional if you believe you are showing signs of Hypersexual disorder.
- The Psychometric Properties of the Hypersexual Behavior Inventory Using a Large-Scale Nonclinical Sample
- Compulsive Sexual Behavior Inventory: A preliminary study of reliability and validity.
- Sexual Addiction Screening Test (SAST)