Recognising sex addiction in women
People often think that sex and pornography addiction is experienced mainly in men. This is partly down to numerous male celebrities having historically explained their infidelities with an admission of sex addiction. However, female sex addicts are common too. Women addicted to sex will experience the same symptoms as men, participating in risky behaviours to satisfy their compulsion. Although women sex addicts may more commonly feel guilt and remorse, it does not make it easier to control their sexual behaviour.
What is a sex addict?
The distinction between acceptable sexual behaviour and addictive sexual behaviour can be difficult to determine. However, all addictions have common traits at their core. These include an obsession and constant preoccupation with the addictive substance or behaviour, engaging in dangerous activities to satisfy the compulsion, and continuing the behaviour regardless of the consequences. Read more to find out about the specific symptoms of sex addiction.
Sex addiction symptoms
Just like men, sex-addicted women will be obsessive about sex. Both male and female sex addict symptoms involve constantly thinking about sex, trying to find ways to engage in it, or battling the urge to have it.
Female sex addicts will experience the following symptoms:
- Difficulty focusing on subjects other than sex
- Finding thoughts about sex frequently overwhelming
- Feeling unable to control compulsive sexual behaviour
- Feeling unable to stop their behaviour, despite promises to themselves or others
- Neglecting family, relationships, career obligations or other responsibilities to seek out sex
- Frequent feelings of intense guilt, shame and self-loathing over sexual acts or their own thoughts
- Continued sexual behaviour regardless of the consequences
- Participating in risky, possibly illegal, sexual behaviour to satisfy their impulses
Women with a sex addiction rarely gain lasting satisfaction from the activity, yet persist in pursuing sex. They are unlikely to form emotional bonds with their sexual partners, leading to even more intense feelings of loneliness and remorse.
What causes sex addiction?
While the causes of sex addiction aren’t fully understood, a few influencing factors have been identified for female sex addicts.
Research by the Sexual Recovery Institute has shown that there is often a combination of rigidity and lack of emotional support in a female sex addict’s family of origin. Studies have shown that as many as 78% of women sex addicts were sexually abused in childhood.
Other common characteristics of female sex addicts, according to Psych Central, include:
- A pre-existing mental health issue like bipolar disorder (during the manic state), borderline personality disorder or dependent personality disorder
- Severe identity confusion regarding their own sexual orientation
- Experiences of childhood sexual abuse, often repeating patterns of abuse in a subconscious attempt to gain control over their childhood trauma
- Delayed intellectual development in teenagers and young adults, such as those with Asperger’s Syndrome
- A tendency towards addiction, such as an existing issue with substance abuse
Sex Addiction Treatment and Therapy
Women sex addicts will need a combination of therapy and sex education to gain control over their compulsive behaviours. Individual therapy, with therapists who understand sex addiction, can help a female sex addict to stop acting on their compulsions and process the underlying triggers and emotions. An inpatient rehabilitation programme may be necessary to fully overcome sex addiction and achieve long-term recovery.
In addition, 12-step programs such as SLAA, Sex Addicts Anonymous (SAA), Sexual Recovery Anonymous (SRA) and Sexual Compulsives Anonymous (SCA) can help women to manage their sexual compulsions in daily life.
In some cases, medications used to treat obsessive-compulsive disorder, such as Prozac, can be prescribed to inhibit the compulsive nature of the sex addiction. This would only be effective alongside a course of therapeutic treatment.
With effective treatment from accredited mental health professionals, any female sex addict can regain control over their day-to-day existence and live a life free from the trauma of addiction.