If you or a loved one suffers from sex addiction, it’s important to understand the symptoms, causes and effects of the disorder.

What Are the Different Types of Sexual Addictions?

Several different types of sex addictions are common. Unfortunately, because so many different types exist, it can be hard to diagnose whether or not you or a loved or is struggling with this issue; however, the following information might be able to help you on your journey.

Sex/Love Addiction

According to Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous, someone with a sex and love addiction can be romantically obsessed, or they may easily enter into codependent relationships. In other cases, they might exhibit signs of sexual or emotional anorexia, which means they avoid relationships because they don’t know how to control them.

Porn Addiction

A porn addiction is often hard for many people to diagnose. Although some people can use porn to spice up their relationships, others might turn to porn obsessively or compulsively. Those who fall in the latter category might suffer from a porn addiction. A porn addiction can cause you to reduce the amount of time you spend socializing, and it might make you sexually unresponsive, according to Fox News. If your partner becomes more demanding or uncharacteristically rough during intercourse, it might indicate they’re struggling with a porn addiction.

Exhibition and Voyeurism

If someone has a sex addiction that’s marked by voyeurism, they might objectify the other person so they can avoid having a personal relationship, according to the Legal Profession Assistance Conference (LPAC) of the Canadian Bar Association. If they struggle with exhibitionism, they might constantly seek attention from other people with no intention of taking the relationship any further.

Other Sexual Addictions

According to the LPAC, some of the other types of sex addiction that can occur include:

  • Using sex seductively
  • Trading sex for money or other things
  • Having intrusive sex
  • Fantasizing about sex all the time
  • Anonymous sex that isn’t connected to emotions
  • Sex based on pain
  • Exploiting others for sex

What Causes an Addiction to Sex?

Many different factors can contribute to a sex addiction. According to MedicineNet.com, these causes can include depression or anxiety, but the addiction can also be caused by sexual abuse. In most cases, someone who’s addicted to sex might experience brain stimulation when they engage in sex or sex-related activities. Over time, you can become addicted to these feelings.

What Are the Signs of Sexual Addiction?

Several signs can serve as indicators that someone has a sex addiction. Some of these symptoms are emotional, but many of them are physical as well.

Emotional Symptoms of Sex Addiction

If you or someone you love suffers from a sex addiction, you might not have healthy boundaries. You might become easily involved with people sexually or emotionally regardless of how well you know them, according to Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous.

Because most sex addicts fear being abandoned, they might stay in relationships that aren’t healthy, or they may jump from relationship to relationship. When alone, they might feel empty or incomplete. They might also sexualize feelings like guilt, loneliness or fear.

Physical Symptoms of Sex Addiction

Although a sex addiction can create many physical side effects, few physical symptoms of this disorder exist. However, the most common physical symptom you might notice is feeling immobilized due to sexual or emotional obsessions.

Short-Term and Long-Term Effects of a Sex Addiction

The effects of a sex addiction can be relatively severe. According to Departmental Management of the USDA, about 38 percent of men and 45 percent of women with sex addictions have a venereal disease as a result of their behavior. Pregnancy is also a common side effect that can occur due to risky behavior. In one survey, nearly 70 percent of women with sex addictions reported they’d experienced at least one unwanted pregnancy as a result of their addiction.

Other side effects include the following:

  • Exhaustion
  • Physical injuries
  • Being arrested for committing inappropriate acts
  • Financial difficulties
  • Professional suffering including demotion

Is There a Sex Test or Self-Assessment I Can Do?

Because sexual addictions can manifest themselves in many different ways, it’s impossible to diagnose yourself just by examining what you do sexually. However, according to Sex Addicts Anonymous, you might be able to diagnose yourself by looking at other criteria. The following elements can indicate you have a sex addiction:

  • You feel powerless over how you act sexually.
  • Your sexual choices are making your life unmanageable.
  • You feel shame, embarrassment or even self-loathing over your sexual acts.
  • You promise yourself you’ll change, but fail to keep those promises.
  • You’re so preoccupied with sex it becomes like a ritual to you.
  • The negative consequences of your behavior are getting worse and worse.

If you’re exhibiting any of these symptoms, it might be time to get help on treating sex addiction problem.

Medication: Are There Sex Addiction Drug Options?

Although some people are able to get past their sex addiction through therapy alone, others need medication to help them. If you suffer from a sex addiction, your doctor might prescribe some serotoninergic (SSRI) medications to help you, according to MedicineNet.com. These medications are commonly used to treat depression and anxiety, and in some cases, they’re also used to treat bipolar disorder.

Sex Addict Drugs: Possible Options

If you decide an SSRI isn’t right for you, a few other types of medication are available for you to consider. Some sex addicts have success using mood stabilizers while others have success using naltrexone, which might be able to decrease the compulsive need to have sex or engage in sexual activities. Some people who want to abstain completely from sex as a way to deal with their addiction might turn to anti-androgenic medications. These medications can help to lower male hormones and thus curb sexual urges.

Medication Side Effects

The side effects you could experience vary depending upon which type of medication you opt to use. If you take an SSRI, you might experience the following side effects:

  • Lowered libido
  • Inability to reach an orgasm or taking longer than usual to reach an orgasm
  • Feelings of nausea
  • Loose stools
  • Feeling agitated
  • Inability to fall asleep
  • Headaches

In severe cases, patients may experience serotonergic syndrome, which is marked by high fevers and can cause life-threatening seizures.

If you decide to take a mood stabilizer, you might feel sleepy for no reason. Although that’s the most common side effect of this type of medication, some people experience lowered white blood cell counts or symptoms consistent with serious autoimmune disorders. Before taking any medications, you should speak with your doctor about possible side effects.

Drug Addiction, Dependence and Withdrawal in Sex Addicts

If you opt to treat your sex addiction with any of the medications discussed above, it’s important to take the medication as recommended by your doctor. Ideally, your doctor should monitor your progress to ensure you don’t become too dependent on any of these medications.

Medication Overdose

By taking your medication as directed, you should be able to avoid an overdose. If you feel tempted to overdose on your medication, you should call for help immediately.

Depression and Sex Addiction

Sex addicts might also suffer from depression. That’s one of the reasons medications that treat depression can also be useful in treating sex addiction. Ideally, your treatment plan should address both your depression and your addiction.

Dual Diagnosis: Substance Abuse and Sex Addiction

In many cases, sex addicts might also struggle with addictions to drugs or alcohol. According to the Departmental Management of the USDA, roughly 42 percent of sex addicts are also dependent on drugs or alcohol. The National Drug Helpline offers helplines for the following substances to those who may be suffering from sex addiction as well:

If you think you have issues with both substance abuse and sex addiction, it’s crucial to find a sex addiction treatment plan that can help you deal with both of these issues.