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Hypersexuality and Sex Addiction: Different Terms, Same Disorder

Man looking at phone in dark hypersexuality

Hypersexuality disorder, or sex addiction, is a disorder that is characterized by a preoccupation with sex. This preoccupation can manifest as sexual fantasies, excessive porn watching, or compulsive urges and behaviors that have a negative impact on your life. 

These impacts are usually wide-spread – your relationships, health, job, and other parts of your life are drastically affected. 

What is Hypersexuality Disorder? 

Hypersexuality disorder involves compulsive behaviors that involve a myriad of enjoyable sexual experiences that take up an excessive amount of your time. 

The Society for the Advancement of Sexual Health defines the hypersexual disorder as “a persistent pattern of failure to control intense and repetitive sexual impulses or urges… despite adverse consequences or deriving little to no satisfaction from [the behavior]”. 

Some examples of these impulsive behaviors include: 

  • Masturbation 
  • Cybersex 
  • Multiple sexual partners 
  • Use of pornography 
  • Risky sexual behaviors 
  • Paying for sex

When these behaviors, and others like them, become hard to manage and are disruptive to your life (and those around you), you may be dealing with a hypersexuality disorder. 

Despite hypersexuality disorder not being listed in the DSM-5, at Begin Again Institute, we have seen the natural consequences of sex addiction. Similarly, we have also seen our clients confront their trauma, their addictions and come out on the other side changed. 

Hypersexuality Disorder: Diagnostic Criteria 

In 2010, the American Psychiatric Association released criteria that help to define hypersexuality disorder. 

Someone can only diagnose hypersexuality disorder in persons over the age of 18. Additionally, a person must experience recurrent and intense sexual fantasies, urges, or behaviors over a period of six months. 

To be diagnosed with Hypersexuality Disorder, you must exhibit at least four of the following criteria: 

  • Repeatedly engaging in sexual behavior with no regard for physical or emotional harm to yourself or others. 
  • Excessive preoccupation and time spent consumed by, planning for, or engaged in sexual fantasies, urges, or behaviors.
  • Repeatedly engaging in sexual fantasies, urges, or behaviors in response to your moods – such as anxiousness, boredom, frustration, or depression.
  • Excessive and repeatedly engaging in sexual fantasies, urges, or behaviors in response to life events.
  • Repeatedly – yet unsuccessfully – attempting to control or reduce your sexual fantasies, urges, or behaviors. 

Hypersexuality Disorder: Causes 

At Begin Again Institute, we believe that all addictions are the consequence of adverse developmental experiences. Childhood adversity has long-reaching effects as it shapes future risk as well as mental health problems throughout your life.

Some common characteristics of ADE’s include a lack of: 

  • Proper attunement
  • Validation 
  • Emotional Recognition and Regulation
  • Acceptance 

Some common experiences of ADE’s include: 

  • Sexual Abuse 
  • Divorce 
  • Poverty 
  • Death
  • Rejection or abandonment 
  • Loss of loved ones, friendship, or pets 

When you experience developmental traumas, it can cause the brain and nervous system to rewire itself. This rewiring may cause you to respond differently than those who did not experience childhood trauma. From an early age, you may begin to seek experiences, substances, or other behaviors that help you regulate these autonomic systems. 

Since sexual activity is one of the first pleasurable situations we experience, it is not surprising then that you continue to use sexual behavior as a tool to regulate your emotions. 

Hypersexuality Disorder: Complications 

As mentioned previously, hypersexuality disorder can have dramatic effects and consequences on your life and the lives of your loved ones. Some complications you may experience if you’ve been diagnosed with or think you may have hypersexuality disorder. 

Common consequences include, but are not limited to: 

  • Neglecting or lying to your partner or family 
  • Struggling with feelings of guilt and shame
  • Risking your job due to engaging in sexual activity or viewing pornography while at work 
  • Suffering financially or accumulate debt by purchasing pornography or the services of sex workers 
  • Passing along sexually transmitted diseases to others or do not attempt to mitigate contracting sexually transmitted diseases 
  • Finding yourself under arrest for sexual offenses 
  • Engaging in parallel addictions, such as substance use
  • Developing additional related conditions such as depression, anxiety, or depression

Help and Treatment for Hypersexuality Disorder 

We rely on a treatment program that can be summed up in four words: discovering the root cause. 

Since we believe that adverse development experiences cause emotional dysregulation, we take a deep dive into your childhood to discover what those experiences were. Simultaneously, we use research and science-based treatment modalities to put a stop to addictive behaviors. 


This survey from RecoveryZone can help you determine whether or not you may be living with hypersexuality disorder. Some of the questions may be triggering as they focus on traumatic experiences. 

You’ll answer questions like: 

  • Were you sexually abused as a child or adolescent? 
  • Do you feel that your sexual behavior is not normal? 
  • Has your sexual behavior created problems for you and your family? 
  • Have you made efforts to quit a type of sexual behavior and been unsuccessful? 
  • Do you hide your sexual behaviors from others?

Seeking Treatment for Hypersexuality Disorder at Begin Again Institute

At Begin Again, we offer multiple treatment options in addition to parallel programs. Whether you are looking to learn more about your addiction, are ready to dive into an in-person program, or need continuing care, we are here to support you in your journey to recovery. 

14-Day Men’s Intensive

The goal of our 14-Day Men’s Intensive is to find the root cause of addiction, stop sexual behaviors, and build a foundation for lasting recovery. 

Only 12 men are part of each intensive. This limitation ensures that you receive the personalized treatment that you deserve. We incorporate Dr. Patrick Carnes’ TASK model to stop your destructive behaviors. Since you will be on the Begin Again campus for the duration of your stay, healing happens around the clock. 

Our next men’s 14-Day Intensive are held on at least once a month. Apply today or reach out to the team to discuss your options

Partner Support Program

Our partner support program addresses the damage done after partner betrayal. Our 2-Day Partner Intensive is included in the 14-Day Men’s Intensive and runs parallel to that program.

This intensive partner program works to regulate the nervous system and re-establish safety. Damage to the nervous system causes your partner to be hyper-vigilant and on high alert at all times.

This program allows open and honest conversations between partners. It is essential to acknowledge the damage, the impact, and the pain that sex addiction can cause. We also work to create guidelines that will allow partners to move forward and regain trust.

Since 2008, the Begin Again Institute has specialized in helping men heal their sexually addictive behaviors and rebuild relationships with damaged wives and partners. 

Reach out today to discuss your options or needs with our staff by calling 720.737.3016

  • Category: Sex Addiction
  • By Ryan Pryor
  • January 15, 2021

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