You can seek help for compulsive sexual behavior in a number of ways. To begin, you may:
- Talk to your family doctor. Your doctor will be able to do a thorough physical examination to look for any health problems linked to your sexual behavior. Your doctor may refer you to a psychiatrist, psychologist or other mental health provider for a more in-depth examination and treatment. Your doctor may also be able to provide you with information about local providers, support groups, websites or other resources.
- Make an appointment with a mental health provider. Look online or in the phone book or check with a local medical center to find a psychiatrist, psychologist or other mental health provider with experience in sexual behavior issues. Government websites and local government agencies such as the Department of Health and Human Services or the Department of Veterans Affairs may be able to help you find a mental health provider.
- Look into online or local support groups. Examples include Sexaholics Anonymous and Sex Addicts Anonymous. These groups may be able to refer you to an appropriate mental health provider for diagnosis and treatment as well as provide other recommendations and support online or in person.
Because appointments can be brief, and because there's often a lot of ground to cover, it's a good idea to be well prepared for your appointment. Here's some information to help you get ready for your appointment, and what to expect from your doctor or mental health provider.
What you can do
Here are a few steps that can help you get ready for your appointment.
- Take some notes about your behavior, including when and how often it occurs and what seems to trigger it or make it worse.
- List any legal, employment or relationship problems caused by your behavior.
- Note any other mental health issues you have, whether diagnosed or not, such as depression or anxiety. Other mental health conditions often occur along with compulsive sexual behavior and may need treatment as well.
- Take an honest look at your substance use. Alcohol and drug abuse are common in people with compulsive sexual behavior and may need to be treated for compulsive sexual behavior to improve.
- Write down key personal information, including any recent or past traumatic events, current stresses and recent life changes.
- Make a list of all medications, as well as any vitamins or supplements, that you're taking.
- Write down questions to ask your doctor.
Your time with your doctor is limited, so preparing a list of questions ahead of time will help you make the most of your time together. List your questions from most important to least important in case time runs out.
Some questions you might want to ask your doctor include:
- Why am I doing these things even when it makes me feel bad?
- What treatments are available to me?
- Which do you recommend?
- Would a support group or a 12-step program be helpful for me?
What to expect from your doctor
Your doctor is likely to ask you a number of questions. Being ready to answer them may reserve time to go over any points you want to spend more time on. Your doctor may ask:
Sep. 15, 2011
- When did you first begin noticing harmful sexual behavior or desires?
- Have your behaviors caused legal, relationship or employment problems, or significant distress in your day-to-day life?
- Does your behavior feel like it's getting more extreme or more out of control?
- Have you ever caused or been the victim of physical, emotional, psychological or sexual abuse?
- Has your behavior hurt you or others in the past, and are you afraid it may hurt you or others in the future?
- What other mental health conditions do you have?
- Do you drink alcohol or use illegal drugs?
- How intense are your sexual urges? When do you lose control?
- What, if anything, seems to lessen your sexual urges?
- What, if anything, appears to increase your sexual urges?
Compulsive sexual behavior — sometimes called hypersexuality, hypersexual disorder, nymphomania or sexual addiction — is an obsession with sexual thoughts, feelings or behaviors that affects your health, job, relationships or other parts of your life.
Compulsive sexual behavior may involve a normally enjoyable sexual experience that becomes an obsession. Or compulsive sexual behavior may involve fantasies or activities outside the bounds of culturally, legally or morally accepted sexual behavior.
No matter what it's called or the exact nature of the behavior, untreated compulsive sexual behavior can damage your self-esteem, relationships, career and other people. But with treatment and self-help, you can manage compulsive sexual behavior and keep your urges in check.