Preparing for your appointment

By Mayo Clinic Staff

You can seek help for compulsive sexual behavior in several ways. To begin, you may:

  • Talk to your family doctor. Your doctor can do a thorough physical exam 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 exam and treatment. Your doctor may also provide you with information about local providers, support groups, websites or other resources.
  • Make an appointment with a mental health provider. If you don't have a doctor's recommendation, check with a local medical center or mental health services to find a psychiatrist, psychologist or other mental health provider with experience in sexual behavior issues. Or look at credible websites online, or check your phone book. Government websites and local 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 The Society for the Advancement of Sexual Health, Sex Addicts Anonymous, and COSA, a recovery program for men and women whose lives have been affected by someone else's compulsive sexual behavior. 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. Some groups are faith-based, and others are not.

Here's some information to help you get ready for your appointment.

What you can do

Before your appointment:

  • Make 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, so be ready to discuss this with your doctor.
  • Prepare key personal information, including any recent or past traumatic events, current stresses and recent life changes.
  • Make a list of all medications, vitamins or supplements that you're taking and the dosages.
  • Prepare questions to ask your doctor ahead of time, in order of priority, to help you make the most of your time together.

You might want to ask your doctor questions such as:

  • 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

Be ready to answer questions from your doctor, such as:

  • 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 daily life?
  • Does your behavior feel like it's getting more extreme or out of control?
  • What, if anything, seems to lessen your sexual urges?
  • What, if anything, appears to increase your sexual urges?
  • 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? 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?
Sept. 13, 2014