Most people take a walk, talk to a friend, or maybe even shout into the void to blow off steam when they’re upset. People with compulsive sexual behavior turn to masturbation, pornography, or sex when something stressful happens in their lives. They use these repeated sexual behaviors, thoughts, and fantasies as coping mechanisms. These behaviors interrupt their daily responsibilities and ruin relationships. And the worst part is that they feel unable to stop or control their behaviors. But they can get help and recover.
What is Compulsive Sexual Behavior?
Compulsive sexual behavior, also called “hypersexuality disorder” or “sex addiction,” is when your sexual urges, behaviors, thoughts, and fantasies are too challenging to control. Your compulsions cause you distress. They often have serious negative repercussions on your health, career, and relationships.
Compulsive sexual behavior disorders include:
- Sex Addiction. The compulsive need to have sex or sexual pleasure at any cost, at any time, and regardless of consequences. It includes behaviors like sex with strangers, infidelity, and engaging in high-risk sexual behaviors.
- Arousal Addiction. Addiction to the build-up of sexual tension rather than the sexual release.
- Porn Addiction. You spend excessive time thinking about, consuming, or finding pornography. You may begin to use pornography at high-risk times, such as while you’re at work.
- Masturbation Addiction. An addiction to self-pleasure. It includes prioritizing masturbation over responsibilities or doing it in risky places.
Compulsive sexual behaviors always start as typical, healthy behaviors. Over time, those behaviors become ingrained in your decisions and your response to adverse experiences. Breaking these habits and behavior patterns may feel impossible, even when you try.
Signs and Symptoms of Compulsive Sexual Behavior
Sex, porn, masturbation, and arousal addiction have similar symptoms. Knowing the signs enables you to seek help before the consequences become dire.
Compulsive sexual behavior symptoms include:
- Sexual activities become a central focus and priority in your life
- Neglecting your health and regular responsibilities to pursue your sexual urges
- Feeling like you can’t contain or control your sexual urges
- Engaging in high-risk sexual behaviors such as unprotected sex
- Engaging in these behaviors in risky places, despite the potential consequences
- Being unable to form or maintain healthy relationships
- Trying unsuccessfully to stop
- Your behaviors are a form of escapism from negative feelings such as depression, loneliness, or anxiety
- Having multiple affairs, sexual partners, or one-night stands
- Feeling detached and unsatisfied by sexual activities
- Avoiding social, family, or recreational activities because you prefer to fulfill your sexual urges
Most likely, you feel distressed about your behaviors. You want to change, you’ve even tried in the past, but you haven’t been successful.
What Causes Compulsive Sexual Behavior?
Compulsive sexual behavior doesn’t have a singular cause that is preventable. Various factors cause it in different people.
For some, compulsive sexual behavior may be a symptom of other mental health issues. For others, it’s the result of unresolved trauma. People use sexual behaviors to cope with negative emotions or circumstances.
Sexual release causes dopamine to fill the brain with feel-good sensations. This release calms your fight-or-flight response after a traumatic event. Your brain learns that sex makes you feel better. Therefore, you repeat sexual behaviors to help you cope with adverse circumstances.
Risk Factors if Left Untreated
Living with compulsive sexual behaviors is difficult. There are real consequences that could lead you down a dangerous, self-destructive path.
Risks associated with compulsive sexual behaviors include:
- Feelings of shame, guilt, and low self-esteem
- Developing co-occurring mental health disorders such as depression or anxiety
- Sexually transmitted diseases from engaging in high-risk or unprotected sex with strangers
- Legal ramifications for sexual offenses
- Loss of family, friends, or other relationships
- Financial issues and debt from spending money on sexual services and pornography
- Using substances such as drugs or alcohol
Seeking help may feel overwhelming, but you’re not alone. Others have the same issues. Healing is possible. You just have to reach out for help.
Treatment for Compulsive Sexual Behavior
At Begin Again Institute, we offer a unique 14-Day Men’s Intensive. Set in the beautiful mountains of Colorado, you’ll have the space and perspective you need to start healing. During the intensive, you’ll have a combination of one-on-one therapy and group meetings. These meetings will be with other men working to overcome compulsive sexual behaviors.
You won’t be alone. You’ll be with like-minded people who are also ready to heal and get control of their lives again. The key to healing is starting fresh, understanding your past trauma, and committing to staying sober.
Contact Begin Again Institute today if you’re ready to start your healing journey.