While there is no official diagnosis for sex addiction, clinicians and researchers have attempted to define the disorder using criteria based on chemical dependency literature. They include:
- Frequently engaging in more sex and with more partners than intended.
- Being preoccupied with or persistently craving sex; wanting to cut down and unsuccessfully attempting to limit sexual activity.
- Thinking of sex to the detriment of other activities or continually engaging in excessive sexual practices despite a desire to stop.
- Spending considerable time in activities related to sex, such as cruising for partners or spending hours online visiting pornographic Web sites.
- Neglecting obligations such as work, school or family in pursuit of sex.
- Continually engaging in the sexual behavior despite negative consequences, such as broken relationships or potential health risks.
- Escalating scope or frequency of sexual activity to achieve the desired effect, such as more frequent visits to prostitutes or more sex partners.
- Feeling irritable when unable to engage in the desired behavior.
You may have a sex addiction problem if you identify with three or more of the above criteria. More generally, sex addicts tend to organize their world around sex in the same way that cocaine addicts organize theirs around cocaine. Their goal in interacting with people and in social situations is obtaining sexual pleasure.
In 2010, the American Psychiatric Association issued its preliminary criteria for “Hypersexual Disorder,” which may be a possible alternative definition or diagnostic label for sex addiction. You can find the symptoms for hypersexual disorder here.
Explore More About Sexual Addiction
- What is Sexual Addiction?
- What Causes Sexual Addiction?
- Symptoms of Sexual Addiction
- Symptoms of Hypersexual Disorder
- Am I Addicted to Sex? Quiz
- If You Think You Have a Problem with Sexual Addiction
- Treatment for Sexual Addiction
- Understanding More About Sexual Addiction
Mark S. Gold, M.D., and Drew W. Edwards, M.S. contributed to this article.