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Taking Control: What is Sex Addiction and What Do I Do About It?

Taking Control: What is Sex Addiction and What Do I Do About It?

Sexual addiction was not used as a formal diagnosis until 2019 when the World Health Organization updated the International Classification of Disease (11th edition), the global standard for classification and management of diseases. In the recently updated ICD-11, Compulsive Sexual Behaviour Disorder or CSBD was given a definition and is now included as one of the impulse disorders. To this day, intense debate still surrounds the diagnosis of CSBD and further studies still need to be conducted on what is sex addiction and the factors that should be taken into account in diagnosing this disorder.

What is Sex Addiction?

Compulsive Sexual Behavior Disorder or sex addiction can be described as a consistent failed attempt to control one’s self from sexual urges and thoughts which results in repetitive sexual behavior. Sexual behavior includes but is not limited to masturbating, watching porn, and sexting. Over the years, this disorder has been known by different names such as hypersexuality and porn addiction.

Signs and Symptoms of Sex Addiction

A lot of research still needs to be conducted for health professionals to have a definite consensus on what is sex addiction and how it manifests in individuals.

However, here are some signs and symptoms that may suggest that someone is addicted to sex:

  • Conducting sexual activities in excessive amounts. These are done to the point where they interfere with work and personal relationships.
  • Recurring sexual fantasies and the inability to control one’s self from acting on them.
  • Spending a lot of time on sexual acts and fantasies to a point that other aspects of life such as work, hobbies, and social engagements are put aside.
  • Engaging in sexual behavior despite the risks of getting in trouble at work, falling out with a loved one, legal problems and transmission of infectious diseases.
  • Troubles in decision making.
  • Using sex as a way to escape feelings of loneliness, anxiety and stress.
  • Tried multiple times to control the urge to engage in sexual behavior and failed.
  • Feeling guilty after conducting a sexual act.
  • Engaging in sexual behavior even if there is little to no feelings of satisfaction derived from it.

The only way for a person to know if they have sex addiction is to undergo proper assessment by a mental health professional.

Effects of CSBD

People suffering from CSBD can face serious social, physical, and emotional problems. If not diagnosed or treated as soon as possible, it can cause life-altering consequences.

Physical Effects

  • Fatigue
  • Sleeplessness
  • Chafing, rashes, and irritation in the genital area
  • Increased risk of acquiring sexually transmitted illnesses and urinary infections
  • Increased risk of unwanted pregnancy

Social Effects

  • Financial problems arising from spending too much time and money on sexual thoughts and activities
  • Compromised relationships among partners, friends, and family because of sexual thoughts and activities
  • Getting involved in crimes just to commit sexual acts
  • Self-isolation

Emotional Effects

  • Feelings of seclusion
  • Outbursts of anger especially when not being able to engage in sexual activity
  • Feeling impatient or irritable when unable to engage in sexual practices
  • Anxiety

What is Masturbation Addiction? Everything You Need to Know

Risk Factors for Sexual Addiction

Anyone can be addicted to sex but it is more frequent in males than in females. Risk factors that can cause sexual addiction include:

  • History of any form of abuse
  • Illnesses that cause hormonal imbalance
  • Substance abuse
  • Other mental conditions such as depression and anxiety


To diagnose sexual addiction, a mental health professional will look at the individual’s family history, past experiences, as well as current situations that might cause addiction. A psychologist might ask questions such as:

  • Do you feel that you can manage the impulse to think about or have sex?
  • Do you feel ashamed after doing sexual activities?
  • Are you hiding your sexual practices, thoughts, and behavior from people you are normally close with?
  • Are your sexual activities interfering with day to day responsibilities?
  • Is your sexual behavior jeopardizing relationships with the people around you?

The goal of the diagnosis is to know if sexual behavior is preventing the person from living a normal and healthy life. Sexual addiction can be tricky to diagnose because of the social and even cultural aspects surrounding it. Excessive sexual activity, whether it be with another person or through masturbation, does not necessarily mean a person is addicted to sex. When done with a consenting partner, and does not negatively affect a person’s life, then it is possible that a person just likes to engage in sexual activity and is not necessarily addicted to it.

Key takeaway

Sex addiction is the inability to control sexual urges resulting in excessive or repetitive sexual activity. Sex can be considered an addiction if sexual behavior negatively impacts a person’s life. If sexual thoughts and activities is causing problems at work, school or home and is preventing a person from fulfilling their day to day activities and responsibilities, then sex can be an addiction.

Learn more about Addiction here.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.


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Written by Hazel Caingcoy Updated Apr 22, 2021
Fact Checked by Hello Doctor Medical Panel