Sex is a healthy part of life, but how much sex is too much?
Sex is a basic part of human nature and it’s perfectly normal and healthy to have an active sex life. But there’s a tipping point — when sexual desires can go from being healthy to out of control. Usually, the difference between enjoying sex and being addicted to sex is apparent. Could you be addicted to sex?
How can we define sexual addiction?
Sex Addiction can refer to a range of behaviors that are done in excess and significantly impact one’s life in a negative way. There are no distinct categories, but sexual addictions can come in different forms, including addiction to pornography, prostitution, masturbation or fantasy, sadistic or masochistic behavior, exhibitionism/voyeurism, and other excessive sexual pursuits.
How can you spot sexual addiction?
If you or someone you love suffers from sex addiction, you might not have healthy boundaries. If your husband is addicted to porn or sex, you may feel alienated, isolated, depressed, angry, or humiliated and need treatment yourself. According to Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous, if you are addicted to sex, you might become easily involved with people emotionally or sexually regardless of how well you know them. Because most sex addicts fear being abandoned, they might stay in relationships that aren’t healthy, or they may jump from relationship to relationship. When alone, they might feel empty or incomplete. They might also sexualize feelings like guilt, loneliness or fear.
Although sex addiction or pornography addiction can create many physical side effects, few physical symptoms of this disorder exist. However, the most common physical symptoms of sexual addiction that you might notice from a possible sex addict is the feeling of being immobilized due to sexual or emotional obsessions.
The effects of sex addiction can be serious.
According to Departmental Management of the USDA, about 38% of men and 45% of women with sex addictions have a venereal disease as a result of their behavior. Pregnancy is also a common side effect that can occur due to risky sexual behavior. In one survey, nearly 70% of women with sex addictions reported they’d experienced at least one unwanted pregnancy as a result of their addiction.
Additionally, sex addiction likely has a negative impact on several areas of one’s life. It can lead to:
- a decline in personal relationships, social, and family engagement
- decreased concentration and productivity at work
- physical consequences like sexual dysfunction or sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
It can have profound psychological effects like generating feelings of shame, inadequacy, and emotional distress. It can lead to or stem from psychological disorders like anxiety and depression.
Am I addicted to sex?
It is best to consult with a healthcare professional for proper evaluation of your sex addiction. However, you may also want to look out for the following signs:
- You feel powerless over how you act sexually
- Your sexual choices are making your life unmanageable
- You feel shame, embarrassment or even self-loathing over your sexual acts
- You promise yourself you’ll change but fail to keep those promises
- You’re so preoccupied with sex it becomes like a ritual to you
It is important to understand that although sex and porn addiction are not “formally” diagnosable, these conditions exist and often present with very adverse consequences and high levels of distress, guilt, and emotional uncertainty. If your partner or someone you know whose sex life is negatively impacted by their partner, it’s time to discuss and get a consultation with a doctor or healthcare professional.