Sexual Addiction

Sexual Compulsivity

(Written by: the Mayo Clinic)

Compulsive sexual behaviour is sometimes called hypersexuality, or sexual addiction. It is an excessive preoccupation with sexual fantasies, urges or behaviours that is difficult to control. It can cause distress, or negatively affects one’s health, job, relationships or other parts of your life.

No matter what it is called or the exact nature of the behaviour, untreated compulsive sexual behaviour can damage your self-esteem, relationships, career, health and other people. But with treatment and self-help, you can learn to manage compulsive sexual behaviour.


Some indications that you may be struggling with compulsive sexual behaviour include:

  • You have recurrent and intense sexual fantasies, urges and behaviours that take up a lot of your time and feel as if they are beyond your control.
  • You feel driven to do certain sexual behaviours, feel a release of the tension afterward, but also feel guilt or remorse.
  • You have tried unsuccessfully to reduce or control your sexual fantasies, urges or behaviour.
  • You use compulsive sexual behaviour as an escape from other problems, such as loneliness, depression, anxiety or stress.
  • You continue to engage in sexual behaviours that have serious consequences, such as the potential for getting or giving someone else a sexually transmitted infection, the loss of important relationships, trouble at work, financial strain, or legal problems.
  • You have trouble establishing and maintaining healthy and stable relationships.

 When to seek help

Seek help if you feel you have lost control of your sexual behaviour, especially if your behaviour causes problems for you or other people.  Compulsive sexual behaviour tends to escalate over time, so get help when you first recognize there may be a problem.

As you decide whether to seek professional help, ask yourself:

  • Can I manage my sexual impulses?
  • Am I distressed by my sexual behaviours?
  • Is my sexual behaviour hurting my relationships, affecting my work or resulting in negative consequences, such as getting arrested?
  • Do I try to hide my sexual behaviour?

Seeking help for compulsive sexual behaviour can be difficult because it is such a deeply personal matter. Try to:

  • Set aside any shame or embarrassment and focus on the benefits of getting treatment.
  • Remember that you are not alone — many people struggle with compulsive sexual behaviour. Mental health professionals are trained to be understanding and discreet. But not all mental health professionals are experienced in treating compulsive sexual behaviour, so make sure you find a therapist who is competent in this area.