What is Sex Addiction?

Sex addiction is a condition best described as intense and compulsive sexual behavior. A person with this condition is unable to control one’s thought and urge for sex. This behavioral disorder is also known by the following names: nymphomania, sexual dependence, hypersexuality, and compulsive sexual behavior.

This condition exists in various forms which include the following:

  • Fantasy Sex: The person is so attracted to sexual fantasies rather than normal sexual conditions.
  • Seductive Role Sex (SRS): The person tries to seduce and tempt others for sex. SRS addicts feel superior when they are able to seduce others for sex.
  • Voyeuristic Sex (VS): The VS addict finds pleasure from viewing online pornographic contents or watching other people having sex. Likewise, VS addicts frequently do masturbation.
  • Exhibitionistic Sex (ES): ES addicts find pleasure from the reaction of doing sexual behaviors in odd and public places and performing difficult sexual positions.
  • Sadomasochism: A person with this addiction finds pleasure from either receiving or giving pain during sexual activities.
  • Exploitative Sex: The two best example of this is rape and pedophilia. A person with this addiction experiences intense pleasure from doing sexual activities to victims while violating their human rights.
  • Other forms include prostitution, intrusive sex, and sex trading.

Sex Addiction Statistics in the United States

This behavioral disorder is a growing issue in the United States as the affected population is increasing erratically. This condition disturbs the normal social and cognitive function of a person.

Here are some of the important statistics describing the latest status of this addiction in the United States.

  • In 2017, around 12 to 30 million people have a sex addiction.
  • 10 percent of men and 7 percent of women experience distress and impairment from this addiction
  • Around 3 to 6 percent of the total population in the United States experience this behavioral disorder.
  • Estimated ratio of sex addiction between male to female is around 3 to 5 percent male for every one female.
  • 87 percent of sex addicts come from dysfunctional families
  • About 55 percent of sex offenders are sex addicts
  • 71 percent of pedophiles are sex addicts

What Causes Sex Addiction?

There is no single factor that leads a person to become a sex addict. Multiple factors have various degrees of influence on the progression of this behavioral disorder. Here are some factors contributing to the development of compulsive sexual behavior.


  • Biochemical Imbalances:

o A person’s ability to feel pleasure is participated both by the brain and the genitals. The presence of a chemical imbalance in the brain to feel sexual pleasure leads to the reaction of craving frequent or intense sexual activity to reach that initial state of pleasure.

o When a person has a low level of dopamine and oxytocin in the reward center of the brain, that person has a higher chance of progressing to compulsive sexual behavior. These two brain chemicals act as modulators for the sexual behavior of a person.

  • Sex hormones: When there is an excess amount of androgen for both males and females, it increases their craving for sexual pleasure.


  • Traumatic Experiences: Most people suffering from sex addictions are victims of physical (72%), sexual (81%), and emotional (97%) abuse. These victims seek sexual pleasure as a means to cope with the pain of their traumatic experience.


  • Dysfunctional Families. Approximately 87 percent of sex addicts come from dysfunctional families. The family is the basic foundation for the values and personality of an individual. If the parents show no love and care to their children and implement a firm disciplinary method, this greatly leads to the progression of compulsive sexual behavior.
  • Pornographic contents. Constant and excessive exposure to pornographic content entails social learning and the development of this behavioral disorder.
  • Peer influence. If one is surrounded by friends who are intensely into sex and porn content, that person has a higher chance of acquiring the same behavior.
  • Social Isolation. A person who prefers to be alone has a higher risk of acquiring unhealthy sexual behaviors to compensate for the absence of a partner.

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Sex Addiction?

This behavioral disorder has several manifestations which may be similar to substance addiction. Likewise, the different types of sex addiction have similar and distinct signs depending on the individual.

Here are some of the common signs and symptoms of this condition.

  • Uncontrolled masturbation
  • Relentless sexual thoughts
  • Compulsive urges and fantasies
  • Multiple partners
  • Several times of being unsuccessful in stopping the addiction
  • Cybersex
  • Engaging in unsafe sex
  • Getting angry and irritated when unable to engage in sex

What are the Negative Effects of Sex Addiction?

This kind of behavioral disorder poses serious adverse effects on the addict and the partner. It can greatly affect all factors in an individual – physical, psychological, and social aspects. These consequences can either be temporary or permanent to the person depending on the length of time and the frequency of doing such unhealthy sexual behaviors.

Physical Effects

  • HIV infection
  • Syphilis: Bacterial infection which causes sores in the genitals
  • Genital herpes
  • Gonorrhea
  • Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)

Social Effects

  • About 40 percent of sex addicts experience broken marital relationships
  • The addict tends to isolate oneself due to the shame and guilt from this behavioral disorder.
  • The person develops self-centeredness due to isolating oneself from society.
  • The growth of trust issues
  • Ineffective parental role model for children

Psychological Effects

  • Severe depression and anxiety
  • Around 70 to 75 percent of sex addicts develop suicidal behavior
  • Loss of sound judgment
  • Inability to handle responsibilities
  • 83% of sex addicts develop other forms of addictions such as alcoholism, uncontrolled gambling, and eating

What are some treatments for Sex Addiction?

This behavioral disorder can be treated as long as the person is willing to undergo treatment. One can adopt and follow some of the following treatment procedures listed below.

Individual or Group Therapy

Individual therapy entails a one-on-one session with the therapist in establishing awareness of the issue and finding ways to solve it.

For group therapy, this may include joining groups such as Sex Addicts Anonymous, Sexaholics Anonymous, Sexual Compulsives Anonymous, and Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous. This method helps the patient establish interpersonal relationships from other addicts. The patient is able to hear authentic experiences and gain in-depth insights from the experiences of other members.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy seeks to identify the negative thoughts, emotions, and behaviors of a patient and tries to transform them into positive ones or formulate solutions to treat those negative things. The main concept of this therapy proposes that thoughts and perceptions shape behavior.

Pharmacological treatment

Medications given to patients must be prescribed by licensed medical personnel. The patient can take Prozac to minimize one’s sexual aggression and cravings. Likewise, anti-anxiety and mood stabilizers prescription drugs can be taken by the patient.

Couple Therapy

The main goal of this treatment is to re-establish and strengthen the relationship between the addict and the spouse. The therapy will cover critical issues such as betrayal, self-denial, and past experiences.

Motivational Interviewing

Motivational interviewing seeks to help the patient find internal motivation to change one’s negative behavior. This therapy is suitable for people who are angry and hostile when told to stop certain adverse behaviors. It is commonly incorporated with cognitive behavioral therapy and support groups.

This method involves two parts:

  • The therapist increases the patient’s motivation to change
  • The patient is encouraged to make a commitment to establishing change

Mindfulness-Based Therapy

This method helps the patient gain more focus on the present issues in order to have better judgment and decision on what to do. It is very useful for patients with depression and anxiety.

12 Step Recovery Program

This method is composed of 12 guiding principles one must adhere in order to recover from any behavioral disorders and addictions. Below are the summary concepts of the 12 Step Recovery Program.

  • Awareness and acceptance of one’s disorder or addiction
  • Acceptance for the need for external intervention
  • Understanding one’s past experiences and how it affects the present
  • Formulating ways to correct mistakes
  • Living life with dignity and honor
  • Helping other patients to recover