How Do Women Describe Their Sex Addiction-Related Behavior?
Women who view pornography, have a higher-than-average number of sexual partners and masturbate with unusual frequency are likely affected by sex addiction, a new study finds.
Sex addiction (compulsive sexual behavior) is defined by dysfunctional and damaging involvement in sexual actions, sexual fantasy or sex-related thought. Broadly speaking, men have higher chances of experiencing this form of behavioral addiction than women, and much of the research on this topic has subsequently focused on men. In a study published in 2014 in The Journal of Sexual Medicine, a team of German researchers used information gathered directly from women to help identify the behaviors most common in women affected by sex addiction. The researchers also sought to determine if these behaviors increase affected women’s level of exposure to risky sexual situations.
Sex is one of the core activities that human beings rely on to support life. In fact, sex is so important to human survival that participation in sexual activity is typically rewarded with highly pleasurable sensations that make future activity much more likely to occur. Most adults keep their sexual behaviors, thoughts and fantasies largely under control and therefore avoid any serious sex-related life dysfunctions. However, current evidence indicates that a certain percentage of adults become preoccupied with sex and excessively seek out the pleasure associated with sexual actions, thoughts and fantasies.
In a manner that’s analogous to the development of an addiction to drugs or alcohol, a person who engages in sex-related thoughts or behaviors to an excessive degree can undergo chemical changes that alter brain function and set the stage for the development of sex addiction. This form of addiction fits the established model for a type of non-drug- or alcohol-related addiction called behavioral addiction or addictive disorder (the term used by the American Psychiatric Association or APA). The APA officially acknowledged the existence of behavioral addiction in 2013 and has started to define the criteria that doctors can use to diagnose their patients. While significant evidence supports the existence of sex addiction, the American Psychiatric Association has not yet set down specific criteria for the condition.
Women and Sex Addiction
Women are more typically associated with a form of behavioral addiction called love addiction rather than with sex addiction. However, there is emerging evidence that indicates that women often develop addictive behaviors, thoughts and fantasies related to the “nitty gritty” of sex itself, not just the emotions surrounding intimate relationships. For example, in a study published in 2014 in the journal Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking, researchers from Germany’s University of Duisburg-Essen concluded that some women frequently use the Internet to access sex-related material and subsequently register relatively high scores on a screening tool, called the Hypersexual Behavior Inventory, used to identify people likely affected by sex addiction symptoms.
How Do Women Describe Their Behaviors?
In the study published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine, researchers from two German universities used a Web-based survey to help identify the types of sex addiction-related behaviors most common to women, as well any potential connections between these behaviors and an increase in women’s sexual risk exposure. Overall, 988 women submitted information to the project. Each of these women took the Hypersexual Behavior Inventory; all of the participants also detailed their level of involvement in sex addiction-related behaviors. The researchers used a screening tool called the Sexual Sensation Seeking Scale to assess the link between the described behaviors and heightened real-world, sex-related risk.
After analyzing the survey and screening tool data, the researchers concluded that women with high scores on the Hypersexual Behavioral Inventory are significantly more likely to engage in a number of behaviors that may indicate the presence of sex addiction. Examples of these behaviors include using pornography, having a higher-than-average number of sexual partners and masturbating with unusual frequency. The researchers also concluded that women with high scores on the Hypersexual Behavioral Inventory have increased chances of acting in ways that boost their odds of exposure to risky sexual situations.
Some researchers believe that women affected by sex addiction typically do not actively engage in sexual behaviors that place them in direct contact with other human beings. The current study’s authors believe that their findings contradict this point of view and indicate that women affected by sex addiction have greater chances of taking part in depersonalized sexual activity involving others. In addition, they believe that their findings help improve professional understanding of the preventive techniques and treatments most useful for women dealing with sex addiction.