What Is A Sex Addiction?


A sex addiction is a proposed diagnosis for people who have an excessive amount of sex and feel distress as a result. The key is - it has to be in excess and significantly impact one’s life in a negative way in order to be categorized as an addiction.

The most current Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders does not identify sex addiction as a diagnosable condition. However, there is research that there are clear similarities of hyper-sexuality and a chemical addiction.

What About A Porn Addiction?

A porn addiction is not the same thing as a sex addiction, but it is considered to be a type of sex addiction. It also is not a diagnosable condition according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, but there is clear evidence that an addiction to porn can lead to serious distress, along with consequences in one’s life and relationships.

Types Of Sexual Addiction

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

  • Exhibition/Voyeurism

  • Other excessive sexual pursuits

Emotional Symptoms

Many people who live with sex addiction will stay in relationships that are not healthy or jump in and out of relationships quickly. This is due to a common fear of being abandoned, which makes them feel empty or incomplete when they are alone. When they are in a relationship, their partner will generally feel alienated, isolated, depressed, angry, or embarrassed. It is suggested that those whose loved ones have a sex addiction seek therapeutic treatment. (Click here to get matched with a therapist).

Physical Symptoms

There are few physical symptoms of the actual disorder, but a sex addiction can create many physical side effects. The most common physical symptom is the feeling of immobilization due to sexual obsessions. There tends to be more symptoms with those who practice unsafe sex, such as the possibilities of sexual dysfunction or STDs.


  • 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 sexual behavior.

  • Pregnancy is also a common side effect that can occur due to risky 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.

  • Sex addiction can lead to a decline in personal relationships, social, and family engagement.

  • There is a decreased concentration and productivity at work.

Psychological Effects

  • Shame

  • Inadequacy

  • Emotional distress

  • Anxiety

  • Depression

  • Substance abuse

  • Impulse control

  • Emotion dysregulation

  • Obsessive-compulsive symptoms

Are You Addicted?

If you think you are living with any type of addiction, make sure you are properly evaluated by a licensed therapist (Click here to be paired with a therapist).

Be aware of the following signs:

  • Feeling 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.