Women and Sex Addiction: Facts and Statistics

Mar 4, 2024

Sex addiction affects both men and women. Numerous studies have found that it’s become a growing problem. According to research from BedBible Research Center, 21 million Americans are sex addicts. 

Another study found that 4.7 million Americans spend up to 11 hours per week looking at adult websites, according to Mayo Clinic. There have been questions regarding female sex addicts.

There is growing research on this subject. Unfortunately, most women are unable to seek help due to shame or stigma associated with the addiction. They also feel uncomfortable joining a support group due to being outnumbered. 

Signs of a Female Sex Addict

To recognize the signs of a female sex addict, it’s important to understand the addiction. Sex addiction is the name for sexual urges, behaviors, and fantasies an individual may have.

The difference between someone with a high sex drive and a sex addict is that it can interfere with one’s relationship and job. Signs of sex addiction are the same among men and women. 

However, sex addiction itself can manifest in different ways. According to WebMD, the most common signs include cheating on partners, engaging in risky behavior, and spending excessive amounts of time on sex, masturbation, or pornography.

Emotional and psychological effects of sex addiction include feelings of shame, anxiety, or depression. 

Male vs. Female Sex Addiction

When a man is diagnosed with sex addiction, he tends to objectify his partners. Instead of looking for an emotional connection, he wants sex with no commitment. He might have casual encounters, one-night stands, or an affair if he’s in a long-term relationship. Other men turn to anonymous sex, escort services, and pornographic websites. Most male sex addicts fear emotional intimacy.  

Sex addiction is different in women in which they seek control and power. They often turn to affairs, kinks or fetishes, sex work, or sugar relationships. Most female sex addicts want to defy society’s expectations of being homemakers and submissive types. 

What causes sexual addiction or hypersexuality?

Sexual compulsion is often referred to as sexual addiction or hypersexuality. These terms are often used interchangeably. The causes of sex addiction and hypersexuality aren’t known. 

Overtime, possible theories suggest changes in the brain caused by the following:

  • Imbalance of brain or mood chemicals. Certain chemicals in the brain such as dopamine or serotonin can control your mood. When these chemicals aren’t balanced, it affect your sexual desires. 

  • Brain conditions caused by damage or certain medications. Certain brain conditions such as Parkinson’s disease can alter the brain to excessively desire sex. Medications can also affect sexual desire. 

  • Substance abuse. Sometimes a history of alcoholism or substance abuse can be linked with sex addiction. Compulsive behavior changes the brain’s pathways known as neural circuits. This causes a need for sexual stimulation and relief. 

  • Trauma. Sex addiction can often be related to childhood experiences, including a history of abuse or attachment-related trauma. These early experiences can alter the way one establishes and maintains adult relationships. 

Signs and symptoms of female sex addiction include:

Sexual addiction is harder to diagnose in women than in men. Most women tend to downplay their addiction. Doctors or mental health professionals have to look at their relationship issues. 

Some of the most common signs among women include:

  • A history of alcohol or substance abuse

  • History of risky sexual activities

  • A history of inappropriate or toxic romantic relationships

  • Ending up in sex work to hide addictive sexual behavior 

  • Mistaking feelings of lust with love 

What causes intimacy disorders?

Even though sex addiction is focused on physical intimacy, it’s due to a lack of emotional intimacy. You may not realize that you fear intimacy. This is why the individual gets more euphoria from casual encounters than from long-term relationships. 

Many factors, such as a history of abuse, a difficult childhood upbringing, or the loss of a parental figure cause fear of intimacy. Fear of abandonment and a fear of loss are the driving factors behind the fear of intimacy. 

These fears are typically rooted in childhood trauma and are triggered when you establish adult relationships. Fear of abandonment can also be caused by anxiety or personality disorder. Signs of fear of intimacy are poor communication, lack of physical contact, and trust issues. 

Effects of sex and love addiction

Sex addiction involves sexual urges, while love addiction involves the intense craving for someone. Both of them are alike in that they relate to an obsession with a particular person or partner. You may notice cravings or feelings of euphoria when you’re with them, which leads to withdrawal when they’re not around. 

Effects of sex and love addiction include:

  • Health issues such as STIs, HIV, or AIDS

  • Decreased self-esteem and self-worth

  • Inability to develop and maintain healthy romantic relationships

  • Legal problems as a result of stalking or exhibitionist sexual behavior

Treatment options for sex and love addiction

Both sex and love addiction are treated with medication, psychotherapy, and self-help groups. Medication is prescribed to treat the mental health conditions associated with the addiction. Common medications include anti-anxiety medication, anti-androgens, antidepressants, mood stabilizers, and Naltrexone. 

Psychotherapy is an approach where you’ll speak with a mental health professional who helps you identify your emotions, triggers, and factors that caused your sex or love addiction. 

Counseling is also available to couples, families, and others who are affected by the individual’s addiction. Most support groups are modeled after the 12-step program of Alcoholics Anonymous, such as Sex Addicts Anonymous and Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous. 

You can find a local chapter in your community. Or, you can start your mental health journey with Birches Health, where you can have treatment at home. 

Resources:

Sexual Addiction Statistics: 24 Eye-Opening Facts

Does society have a sex addiction problem?

Signs of a Sex Addict

Sex Addiction, Hypersexuality and Compulsive Sexual Behavior

Compulsive sexual behavior

 Fear of Intimacy: Signs, Causes, and Coping Strategies 

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