Increasingly common among teens and young adults, compulsive sexual behavior — also referred to as hypersexuality, hypersexual disorder, nymphomania or sexual addiction — is an obsession with sexual thoughts, feelings or behaviors that negatively impacts one’s capacity to effectively function in their life. For teens, the effects are manifest in their school performance, relationships with parents and family, social life, recreational habits, motivation to achieve goals and their self-esteem.
Compulsive sexual behavior may involve sex becoming an obsession. It may also involve fantasies or activities outside the bounds of culturally, legally or morally accepted sexual behavior. Compulsive sexual behavior may consist of generally acceptable sexual acts taken to an extreme. These behaviors become problems when they become an obsession that’s disruptive to the teen or those around him/her. This can be particularly problematic for teens that are not yet ready to manage the emotional demands that accompany sexual activity.
Other compulsive sexual behaviors outside the bounds of commonly accepted conduct are called paraphilias and range from behaviors such as compulsive cross-dressing to having sexual desires toward children (pedophilia).
For teens and young adults, compulsive sexual behavior symptoms vary in type and severity. Some signs that your child may be struggling with compulsive sexual behavior include:
Compulsive sexual behavior can occur in both teen boys and girls, though it’s more common in girls. It can also affect anyone regardless of sexual preference — whether heterosexual, homosexual or bisexual.
Matt is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who has been working in the field of youth treatment and psychotherapy since 1995. He did his undergraduate work at BYU and earned his M.S.W. at the University of Utah. He has worked in a variety of treatment setting in his career ranging from wilderness therapy and residential treatment to outpatient treatment and state government.