What is Hypersexuality: Definition, Symptoms, & Treatments

April 9, 2024 By sexmedz Off

Hypersexuality, sexual behavior is a normal, healthy part of life, and many people enjoy being active with multiple sexual partners or seeking many different types of sexual experiences. Hypersexuality becomes a problem when it causes a person significant distress or puts them at risk of harming themselves or someone else.

What is hypersexuality?

Hypersexuality is also known as compulsive sexual behavior disorder or, more commonly, sex addiction. When a person has an obsessive fixation on sex, sexual acts, and sexual fantasies, he or she may be hypersexual.

This fixation is usually so severe that it can disrupt a person’s daily functioning. Some research shows that up to 3-6% of people live with some form of sex addiction or related disorder, and that the condition primarily affects men.1

Hypersexual people may exhibit a multitude of problematic sexual behaviors, such as excessive consumption of pornography, excessive masturbation, or participation in sexual activities with a large number of partners. The lack of recognition of hypersexuality as a mental disorder has led many people to live with this condition without an official diagnosis.

This article covers the signs of hypersexuality, its causes, and describes potential treatment options.

Symptoms of hypersexuality

Compulsive sexual behavior can manifest itself through a variety of different types of behaviors, but tends to intensify over time. A primary indicator of concern may be a high libido that suddenly seems out of control, or if your sexual behavior is causing problems for you or someone else.

Symptoms of hypersexuality may include the following:

  • Intense sexual fantasies or uncontrollable thoughts
  • A willingness to engage in sexual behavior to release tension, but then a feeling of guilt or shame
  • Unsuccessful attempts to control or change sexual fantasies, urges, or behaviors.
  • Using sexual behavior as a coping mechanism or as a way to numb feelings of depression, anxiety, loneliness, or stress.
  • Adopt risky behaviors; such as paying for sex, unprotected sex, sex with multiple partners, etc.
  • Lying or trying to hide the behavior
  • Difficulty forming and maintaining healthy relationships

What are the causes of hypersexuality?

It is not known exactly what causes hypersexuality. Research indicates the following possible causes of the disease:

Development of certain conditions: Conditions such as epilepsy are thought to cause damage to certain parts of the brain, which could in turn trigger the disease.

A chemical imbalance in the brain: The brain controls almost all of our daily functioning, including our sexual behavior. A chemical imbalance could cause a complete lack of interest in sexual urges, behaviors, or hypersexuality. Some evidence suggests that a dopamine imbalance could trigger the disease.

Drugs: According to some researchers, hypersexuality could develop as a side effect of certain medications. Dopamine replacement drugs, typically used to treat Parkinson’s disease, have been found to sometimes cause hypersexuality.

In addition to the likely causes of the disease, certain risk factors could put some people at higher risk than others of developing this disease. These include drug or alcohol abuse, a family history of mental health problems, and sexual abuse.

Complications of Hypersexuality

Hypersexuality has potential negative effects that can impact physical and emotional health. They include:6

  • Feelings of guilt or shame
  • Increased risk of contracting a sexually transmitted infection
  • Increased risk of drug or alcohol use
  • Legal repercussions such as arrest for a sex crime
  • Mental health problems such as depression or anxiety
  • Financial tensions
  • Tensions on relationships
  • In difficulty at work
  • Suicidal thoughts

What are the treatments for hypersexuality and sex addiction?

Possible treatments for hypersexuality and sex addiction include a combination of self-help, psychological treatment, and sometimes medications. Treatment aims to help you manage your sexual urges and reduce excessive behaviors while maintaining healthy sexual activities. Some people also need treatment for other mental health problems, such as substance abuse, anxiety, or depression.


Learn more about compulsive sexual behavior to better understand its causes and treatment.

Identify situations, thoughts and feelings that can trigger sexual compulsions so you can take steps to avoid and manage them.

Get treatment for any other mental health problems, such as addiction, depression, anxiety, or stress.

If you use sexual behavior to cope with negative emotions, explore healthier ways to deal with them, such as exercise and recreational activities.

Practice relaxation and stress management.


Psychotherapy can help you learn to manage your compulsive sexual behavior. Psychotherapies can be provided individually or in a group, in a family or as a couple. Types of psychotherapy include:

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). It helps you identify unhealthy and negative beliefs and behaviors and replace them with more beneficial ways of coping.

Acceptance and commitment therapy. It is a form of CBT that focuses on accepting thoughts and impulses and committing to choosing actions that are more aligned with important values.

Psychodynamic psychotherapy. It focuses on increasing your awareness of unconscious thoughts and behaviors, developing new insights into your motivations, and helping you resolve conflicts.


Some medications can help reduce obsessive thoughts and behaviors or reduce sexual urges. Medications used to treat compulsive sexual behavior are often prescribed for other conditions as well. Examples included:

Antidepressants. Some types of antidepressants used to treat depression, anxiety, or obsessive-compulsive disorder can help combat compulsive sexual behavior.

Naltrexone. Naltrexone is typically used to treat alcohol and opioid addiction and blocks the part of the brain that experiences pleasure with certain addictive behaviors. This can help combat behavioural addictions such as compulsive sexual behavior or gambling disorders.

Mood stabilizers. These drugs are generally used to treat bipolar disorder, but they can reduce compulsive sexual urges.

Anti-androgens – for example, cyproterone. These drugs reduce the biological effects of sex hormones (androgens) in men. Because they reduce sexual urges, antiandrogens are often used in men whose compulsive sexual behavior is dangerous to others.

Final Thoughts

Hypersexuality is difficult to deal with, but there are ways to deal with it. Recovery can take time, but you can stay motivated by keeping your recovery goals in mind and remembering that treatment and support are readily available.


Is hypersexuality a mental health disorder?

Hypersexuality is recognized as a symptom of certain mental health disorders, such as bipolar disorder or obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). However, it is not a full-fledged mental health disorder.

How is hypersexuality diagnosed?

Diagnosis requires a thorough evaluation by a mental health professional. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) can be used as a reference and the assessment considers the impact on daily life.

What are the signs of hypersexuality?

Signs may include excessive sexual fantasies, a persistent need for sexual stimulation, risky sexual behavior, and difficulty controlling sex-related impulses.

Can drugs cause hypersexuality?

Some medications, especially those that affect neurotransmitters, can affect sexual behavior. It is essential to discuss any changes in sexual behavior with a healthcare professional.