Sexual Health news - Sexual Health and Behavior

Sexual addiction may be a mental health disorder

A new study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine discusses a new set of criteria that could potentially classify sexual addiction as a mental health condition. Researchers from the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) finished testing these standards and discovered that they may be a valid way to help professionals diagnose hypersexual disorder.

While not all healthcare providers believe that hypersexual disorder is something that needs medical intervention, there is a psychological aspect that could interfere with everyday life, causing the sufferer distress. According to the Society for the Advancement of Sexual Health, sex addiction can present itself in a variety of ways, such as the patient feeling as if he or she has no control over sexual behavior, having serious consequences because of that behavior and constantly thinking about sex.

This condition can lead to affected individuals participating in risky activities that could increase their likelihood of contracting a sexually transmitted disease (STD), such as gonorrhea or chlamydia. This may involve having sex with prostitutes, engaging in one-night stands and having affairs. Moreover, these people may be more likely to molest, rape or sexually harass another person, expose their reproductive organs in public or try to discreetly watch another individual undress or partake in sexual activities.

Healthcare providers can use guidelines to diagnose patients
The study's investigators narrowed down a set of symptoms that can classify individuals with intense sexual addiction as mentally ill. Some include an ongoing pattern of sexual fantasizing, sexual behavior as a result of dealing with unpleasant mood states and behaviors that last for more than six months that aren't related to drug or substance abuse. Ultimately, they found that 88 percent of hypersexual patients have the disorder under the new criteria. In addition, the guidelines were accurately able to determine that a patient did not have the condition 93 percent of the time.

"The criteria for hypersexual disorder that have been proposed, and now tested, will allow researchers and clinicians to study, treat and develop prevention strategies for individuals at risk for developing hypersexual behavior," said Rory Reid, a researcher at UCLA.

The UCLA researchers also found that 28 percent of the assessed patients in the study contracted an STD due to the condition, another 17 percent lost their jobs and nearly 40 percent broke up with their partners. These findings indicate a need for early intervention by a professional who can provide the affected individual with prevention strategies.