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Sexual Compulsion: How It Differs In Women (and How It Doesn’t)

February 13, 2023

By Anna McKenzie

Compulsive sexual behavior can be defined in many ways and identified by terms such as hypersexuality or sex addiction. While it’s commonly been considered that women develop sexual compulsion in relation to disorders like love addiction, the truth is that compulsive sexual behavior in women often looks similar to how it does in men. Women are not exempt from using sex as a form of power, or getting a high from risky sexual behaviors. However, women may be more prone to hiding their behaviors or acting out in different ways, given that sexual struggles are often seen as less acceptable in women than in men.

What Is Sexual Compulsive Disorder?

Sexual Compulsion examples

All addictions are characterized by a lack of control on the part of the subject over the substance or behavior. Sexual compulsive disorder is no different. Those who struggle with this condition are engaging in sexual behaviors to an extent that is unhealthy and harmful to themselves and others.

How do you know if your sexual behavior is compulsive or unhealthy? The prevailing symptom is continuing to pursue the behavior, and getting even further entrenched, in spite of repeated and even severe negative consequences.

Sexual compulsion to this degree may escalate to extensive pornography viewing, engaging in sexual activities with strangers or in unsafe environments, and using sex with others in order to feel a high or sense of power. None of these behaviors will help you establish healthy attachments or real intimacy, which can only be fostered with trust and a sense of safety.

Compulsive Sexual Behavior in Women

Women who struggle with compulsive sexual behavior often have a history of neglect, abuse, or trauma, according to research shared by the National Library of Medicine. This history shatters their sense of safety and ability to trust others. Sexual activity becomes a vehicle for release, a method for gaining power over others, and self-medication for deep-seated distress. It begins taking over, much like a drug addiction, and a loss of control ensues.

Sexual activity becomes a vehicle for release, a method for gaining power over others, and self-medication for deep-seated distress.

Because these broken behavior patterns stem from bad experiences, betrayal, and inappropriate narratives that impair your ability to think clearly about the behaviors, conditions like sexual compulsive disorder require treatment for complete healing.

With therapeutic support and engagement, women with this disorder can find restoration, prevent repeating their trauma, and discover a new approach that allows them to esteem themselves and participate in healthy relationships with others.

Understanding Sexual Compulsion

For a long time, men were the main subjects of studies on compulsive sexual behaviors. Acting out sexually was seen as more acceptable (if not expected) in men, and it seemed that men presented with the most problems in this area. Social norms, roles, and opportunities have played a part in this skewed understanding of who has struggled with compulsive sexual behaviors and what it looks like. However, regardless of cultural expectations or understanding, men and women are equally susceptible to sexual compulsion and intimacy disorders.

Women are still more likely to hide their behaviors or act out differently due to prevailing societal perspectives. They often experience a great deal of shame that pushes them further into these dysfunctional and harmful patterns. But in today’s world, struggles with sexual compulsion, especially among women, are starting to come into public view.

This is partly due to the fact that the internet has created more opportunities for both men and women to engage in potentially harmful sexual behaviors. Increased access to pornography and greater exposure to explicit sexual imagery in movies and TV have exacerbated the incidence and frequency of sexual issues. Additionally, digital anonymity provides the opportunity to detach from personal responsibility for behaviors and engage more fully in fantasy environments that can perpetuate harmful standards about how human beings should treat each other.

It’s important to both understand and treat what’s driving sexual compulsion for the sake of complete healing.

However, the underlying issues that drive compulsive sexual behaviors — trauma, abuse, and neglect — have always been around. It’s important to both understand and treat what’s driving sexual compulsion for the sake of complete healing.

Find Healing at Willow House at The Meadows

With help and the proper support, recovery from sexual and intimacy disorders is possible. Others have made the journey and are now leading lives of healthy attachment and freedom from compulsive urges. If you’re ready to win back your life and find healing from harmful sexual behaviors, contact our team today. At Willow House at the Meadows, we provide stability, safety, and research-backed methods to help you overcome sexual compulsion and related conditions. We’re ready to help you; just give us a call today to learn more.