This month, the World Health Organization, WHO, declared compulsive sexual behavior disorder, or sex addition, a mental health condition. Here are your questions answered.
What is sex addiction?
Sex addiction is defined as an inability to control sexual urges or impulses leading to repetitive sexual behavior that disrupts health, home or work life, most of which does not yield enjoyment or intimacy.
How common is sex addiction?
Approximately 3-6% of US adults qualify as having a compulsive sexual disorder, which equates to 7-14 million adults.
How is sex addiction diagnosed?
Criteria for diagnosis, according to Psychology Today, include:
- Symptoms must occur for at least 6 months
- An individual experiences recurrent and intense sexual fantasies, sexual urges, or sexual behaviors
- The time spent engaging in sexual fantasies, urges, or behaviors consistently interferes with other important activities and obligations
- Sexual fantasies, urges, or behaviors occur in response to dysphoric mood states (anxiety, depression, boredom, irritability) or stressful life events
- An individual engages in consistent but unsuccessful efforts to control or reduce their sexual fantasies, urges, or behaviors
- An individual engages in sexual behaviors while disregarding the potential for physical or emotional harm to self or others
- The frequency or intensity of sexual fantasies, urges, or behaviors cause significant personal distress or impairment
Can sex addiction lead to other mental health illness?
Sexual addiction may often coexist with other struggles such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, alcoholism or drug use. The compulsive sexual behavior may precede, follow, or be a symptom of a current mental illness.
How is sex addiction treated?
Treatment of sexual addiction may include group therapy, behavioral and cognitive therapy, treatment of underlying issues and other behavior modification techniques.
Who suffers from sex addiction?
Anyone can suffer from sex addiction. It knows no boundaries when it comes to gender, age, race or occupation.
Stars who have opened up about their sex addition include:
- Jada Pinkett Smith
- Russell Brand
- Kanye West
- Michael Douglas
- Lindsey Lohan
- Rob Lowe
- Tiger Woods
- David Duchovney
- Colin Farell
- Charlie Sheen
Does watching porn lead to sex addiction?
Although some sex addicts frequently view porn, watching porn does not constitute a sexual addiction. However, the number of those addicted to porn is rising, and those individuals need treatment for a porn addiction.
How does watching pornography affect health?
Although we do not have any definitive studies telling us porn is good or bad for our health, there are many opinions on the matter.
One concern is inactivity and time spent in front of a screen. Sitting in front of a computer, tablet, or hand-held device watching hours of porn could increase risk of a blood clot, heart disease and (prolonged sitting) has been linked to colon cancer. However, according to PornHub, the average time spent viewing porn only ranges from 9-13 minutes.
What about lack of sleep? Are people secretly watching porn at night, and not getting their 7-9 hours of uninterrupted rest?
According to PornHub the most common time during the day to watch porn was between 10 pm and 1 am. If one is only online for 10 minutes and falls asleep afterwards, they may still receive a good amount of sleep.
What about the risks of frequent masturbation?
In 2009 a study found frequent masturbation in young males could increase their risk of prostate cancer, but in older men (>50 years), reduced their risk. Other studies have suggested reduced risk of prostate cancer that occurs in older men but not aggressive cancer in younger men.
Excessive masturbation could affect one’s refractory period, or time it takes to form an erection again after sex. For some this could last 15 minutes, for others a week. So if a date night is planned for later that evening, one with a long refractory period could have issues.
Chafing and inflammation can also occur but are usually rectified with a change in modality.
For more on sex addiction see here.
For more on porn addiction see here.