When Is It Time To Take A Sex Addiction Quiz?

Reviewed by Laura Angers, LPC

Published 06/22/2022

Sex can often be considered a taboo topic. This can make it uncomfortable for us to ask or learn about sex and things pertaining to sex, such as sex addiction. This makes it all the more imperative that we speak bluntly and honestly about sex and sex addiction realities. Hopefully, in this article, you will find some resources and answers regarding questions and curiosities you have around sex addiction and its diagnosis. 

Woman in Black Tank Top Lying on Bed

What Is A Sex Addiction? 

Sex addiction is a condition in which someone engages in sexual behaviors to the extent that their actions cause distress in their lives, relationships, and careers.

These behaviors may include masturbating, watching porn, paying for sex, having sex for money, or having intercourse often and sometimes with multiple partners, to name a few. It is a commonly misunderstood condition.

Also referred to as hypersexual disorder, sex addiction was formerly included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) as a Sexual Disorder. Prior publications of the DSM defined sex addiction as “distress about a pattern of repeated sexual conquests or seeking out experiences that fulfill sexual urges, involving other people who are viewed by the individual as things to be used.” 

Because the criteria for having a sex addiction is highly subjective and can vary due to societal standards, it is difficult to study in a clinical context and hard to diagnose. Lack of empirical evidence to support diagnosing sex addicts led professionals to reject including hypersexual disorder in the DSM-5, the most recent publication of the DSM. This is not to say sex addiction shouldn’t be taken seriously.

A common misconception about sex addicts is that they crave or have a lot of sex. While perceptions of sex and sexual urges vary from person to person, research suggests that sex addicts are typically driven to engage in sexual acts due to other underlying problems, rather than engaging in sex due to a conscious, healthy desire.

What Are The Symptoms Of Having A Sex Addiction?

Maintaining an active sex life, enjoying different kinds of sexual interactions, or having multiple partners does not necessarily indicate that someone is addicted to sex. Having or craving sex is normal, and having a healthy sex life can promote physical health for some people. Sexual behavior is only deemed risky or problematic when an individual compulsively participates in sexual acts because they cannot control their actions or urges, despite knowing the consequences or disruptions that might occur as a result.

Signs of sex addiction include the following:

  • Having recurring sexual fantasies that may be intense or extreme urges and habits that consume a lot of time.
  • Feeling as if you can’t control your urges or actions when it comes to sexual activity.
  • Using sex to escape or cope with feelings such as stress, anxiety, sadness, depression, or loneliness.
  • Participating in sexual activity and feeling emotional relief afterward, followed by feelings of regret or guilt.
  • Feeling constant fear or intense shame that you might be caught in the act due to your behavior’s promiscuity or the frequency.
  • Being unable to successfully get your sexual urges under control or reduce your sexual fantasies and behavior.
  • Returning to behaviors such as watching pornography, soliciting sex workers, having affairs, masturbating despite knowing such behavior puts your personal life, career, relationships, and health (due to sexually transmitted diseases) at risk.
  • Consistently engaging in sexual behaviors while disregarding how it may harm others, physically or emotionally.

Finding it difficult to establish and keep relationships that are healthy and stable.

Compulsive sexual behavior might be linked to other disorders such as depression and anxiety, as sex may provide temporary relief from difficult emotions. It’s important to understand why individuals crave sex and how they approach and view sex to make sure other issues aren’t being masked. Addressing these underlying issues and feelings and maintaining mental health may help address the urge to act on sexual impulses.

What Causes Sex Addictions?

The causes of sex addictions are relatively unclear as the sex itself tends to be subjected to bias. Different cultures view sexuality and sexual behavior differently, which can make it hard to define or say what should be viewed as unacceptable vs. what is acceptable. While one culture may consider sexuality and being open about sex to be positive, others may view engaging in sex or experimenting sexually negatively. 

It has been argued that these may be causes that contribute to developing a sex addiction:

  • Chemical imbalances, as neurotransmitters (chemicals in the brain that signal physical and emotional responses), help regulate your mood; having abnormal levels may drive one to engage in sexual behavior.
  • Diseases, health problems, or physical injuries related to the brain may affect parts of the brain that drive impulse control or sexual behavior.
  • Changes in the pathways of the brain, as addiction is tied to reinforcement and mental stimulation. The longer someone participates in behavior that triggers pleasure or stimulation to the brain, the harder it is for the brain to resist positive reinforcement or to act upon urges, creating an addiction to the source of the triggering behavior. Over time, the stimulus will have to be stronger or more extreme as the body and brain builds a tolerance. With sex addictions, this may drive someone to engage in riskier behavior such as affairs or public acts that could get them into trouble with the law since they no longer derive enough, if any pleasure, from more acceptable or manageable sexual activity.

Can I Prevent Forming A Sex Addiction?

Because the causes of sex addiction aren’t clear, prevention can be difficult. There are still a few practices you can try to help keep your behavior under control.

  • Maintain Your Mental Health.Because impulsivity can be linked to disorders such as depression or anxiety, taking care of your mental health is pivotal to controlling your sexual urges.
  • Avoid Situations That Jeopardize Yourself Or Others. Try not to put yourself into situations where you may be tempted to engage in risky or promiscuous behavior, especially if it could lead to consequences such as getting a sexually transmitted disease or legal punishments.
  • Seek Help Early On If You Find That You Struggle With Sex.If the symptoms above sound familiar, identifying and addressing your behavior may help prevent you from making the same decisions or riskier, more dangerous decisions in the future.
  • Seek Help If You Struggle With Any Other Addictions, such as substance abuse. Improper use or consumption of drugs such as alcohol can lower your inhibitions or mood, impairing your judgment regarding things such as sex.
Diverse people in a supporting group session

Am I Addicted To Sex?

If the symptoms and content of this article sound familiar to you, it might be time to seek help. It can be hard to ask for help, especially when it concerns a matter as private or intimate as sex. Recognizing whether your behavior is causing problems personally or others in your life is the first step. Without accepting your choices’ outcomes, it can be very difficult to gain back control over your urges and your life.

Here are questions to ask yourself to gauge whether or not to seek out professional help:

  • Does engaging in sexual activity make me anxious or distressed?
  • Am I managing my urges and sexual impulses?
  • Does my sex life affect my work or hurt people I’m close to?
  • Have my actions resulted in or could they lead to negative consequences such as getting fired, being arrested, or losing my friends or family?
  • Do I feel ashamed of or guilty about my sexual behavior?
  • Do I continually try to hide my sexual activity?

If you answered yes to any of the questions above and want to learn more about sex addictions, try taking a sex addict quiz for more insight. Remember that this quiz is not meant to substitute an official diagnosis from a professional but rather to provide some resources and insight as to whether or not speaking to a professional may be necessary, 

In addition to learning more about sex addictions, it can help remind you that there’s no shame in asking for help. Saying a statement such as “I am a sex addict” can feel embarrassing or shameful due to stigma, rather than what it is, courageous and self-aware. Acknowledging an issue or a matter, however, is not shameful at all. Without accepting that you might be struggling, you might not focus on seeking treatment or the benefits of getting help.

Many people struggle with compulsive sexual behavior, even if they don’t have a sex addiction. You’re not alone, and there are even help groups and support groups that allow people who struggle with sex to be open and vulnerable with each other. Mental health professionals can also provide aid as they are prepared and trained to understand and treat your issues discreetly. As with any other medical disorder or concerns, certain specialists are more prepared or experienced when it comes to treating compulsive sexual behavior to find a professional who has experience handling this issue.

Sex is a deeply personal matter that shouldn’t bring one feelings of shame or discomfort, and seeking help to shift your behavior and perceptions of sex are in no way shameful. Taking the first step towards getting back control could mean making positive changes in your life and relationships, allowing you to start living a happier life.