Sexual Addiction and its Symptoms

Sexual Addiction and its Symptoms
Written By: Counselling Psychologist
M.Sc. Psychology - Swansea University, UK.
Reviewed By: Counselling Psychologist
MA Psychology Pennsylvania State University, USA
Last Updated: 30-03-2023

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Sexual addiction is a state of intercourse in which compulsive and characterized engagement of participants happens by sexual activity.

The major symptoms of sexual addiction are hypersexuality, paraphilia, and erotomania-related disorders.

The term sexual dependency refers to someone (individual or people) who shows sexual behaviors, sexual urges, or thoughts of having sexual interdependency. The basic idea behind sexual addiction is known as contentious.

The major debate that arises between psychologists, psychiatrists, sexologists, and other experts or specialists includes compulsive sexual behavior. The research has shown that compulsive sex behavior arises from epigenetic and arrangement mechanisms that include drug addiction. The other study on sexual addiction has proven that these clinical diagnoses are either ICD (International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems) or DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) classified can cause serious effects and have caused major problems. Undergoing medication can be one of the reasons that can cause addiction in humans or individuals and can also lead to pathologies behavior and will cause harm to human health.

According to the criteria of ICD-10 “sexual addiction” is known as a compulsive need to perform sex or sexual acts to achieve a kind of high that a person gets after alcohol use from a drink. For most people, sex addiction leads to difficulty in relationships. Like alcohol or drug dependence, it can negatively affect one’s mental and physical health, quality of life, and safety. 

People with sex addiction tend to have more than enough sexual partners, but this alone cannot be a criterion to diagnose someone from this disorder. Sometimes it manifests as a compulsive need to view pornography, masturbate or be in sexually stimulating situations. People significantly change their life and routine to engage in sexual acts many times a day and are unable to control their actions despite it having intense negative consequences.

Symptoms of sexual addiction might include the following:

The main character might be the secrecy of behavior, in which an individual with the disorder is skilled at hiding their behavior and can sometimes keep their condition from their partners and family members. They tend to lie about their sexual activities or try to take part in them from time to time in places where they don’t usually feel comfortable.

Some visible symptoms include:

  • Obsessive sexual feelings and fantasies 

  • Preoccupation with engaging in sexual behavior, even though it interferes with daily life, work, productivity, and so on.

  • Engaging in sexual intercourse with strangers and having compulsive relations with multiple people at the same time 

  • Lying to cover behavior.

  • Inability to stop or control their behavior

  • Putting others and themselves in danger due to sexual behavior

Such compulsive acts can break relationships, for example, with the stress of infidelity/adultery- claiming to have sex addiction as a way to get out of adultery in a sexual relationship.

It is important to keep in mind that taking pleasure in sexual activity is not considered a sign of sexual addiction. Sexual intercourse is a healthy human interaction, and enjoying it is perfectly normal. In addition that having differences in the level of sexual interest between two people does not mean that one of them is addicted to sex.

Persons facing sex addiction might encounter many challenges in their life. They might engage in activities that might jeopardize the safety of themselves and others around them. It is good to take help from professionals if you feel like you are experiencing any of the above symptoms. Try to overlook the societal norms and not be afraid to reach out for help.


Sussman, S. and Tsai, J.Y., 2020. Sexual addiction. In Adolescent Addiction (pp. 241-263). Academic Press.

Pocknell, Victoria, and Alan R. King. "Personality Inventory for the DSM-5 (Brief Form) Predictors of Sexual Addiction." Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity 26, no. 3-4 (2019): 315-332.

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