Now, a new study aims to shed light on what causes a sex addiction – and one theory is it’s down to increased levels of the so-called “cuddle hormone”. The hormone, known as oxytocin, is said to make people bond and stay together – and it is also thought to make sex more rewarding.
Those with excess oxytocin may be attracted to many people at the same time, leading them to compulsively seek out sex, scientists in Sweden believe. Sex addiction can involve a number of different experiences, from masturbation to cybersex, multiple partners, porn and paying for sex. Here we look at the eight warning signs of compulsive sexual behaviour, also known as hypersexuality and sex addiction:
Signs you could be a sex addict
1. Recurrent and intense sexual fantasies According to the Mayo clinic, recurrent and intense sexual fantasies, urges and behaviours will take up a lot of a sex addict’s time. Some sex addicts have such a preoccupation with having sex it even interferes with daily life, productivity, work performance and so on.
2. Compulsive masturbation There’s no definitive answer for what is too much, but when it starts to interfere with your daily life, alarm bells should ring.
3. Sexual habits that carry potential problems or risks You put yourself in dangerous situations – such as getting involved in extramarital affairs, unprotected sex, or spending huge amounts of money on porn. Some sex addicts might engage in illegal sexual activity – indecent exposure, upskirting and serious sexual crimes like sex with minors.
4. Relationship troubles A lot of sex addicts have trouble establishing or maintaining healthy relationships. They often attach themselves to people who are emotionally unavailable and will sometimes avoid physical, sexual and emotional intimacy for fear of being vulnerable. Others have compulsive relations with multiple partners, including strangers.
5. Using sex to escape other problems Many sex addicts use sex to escape other problems, like loneliness, depression, anxiety or stress.
6. Release of tension after sex You feel driven to do certain sexual behaviours and feel a release of tension afterwards – but also guilt and remorse.
7. Compulsive lying and secrecy One characteristic may be secrecy of behaviours, in which the person with the disorder becomes skilled at hiding their behaviour and can even keep the condition secret from spouses, partners, and family members. They may lie about their activities or engage in them at times and places where they won’t be found out.
8. Inability to stop or control the behaviours A sex addict’s intense urges and fantasies may make them feel like they’re completely out of their control. They have an an awareness that the urges are uncontrollable, in spite of financial, medical, or social consequences.
It comes after researchers found that men and women with sex addiction have an increased level of oxtyocin. Experts, led by the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, looked at the blood of 60 people, mainly men, who were being treated for the disorder.
And they compared them to samples from 33 healthy volunteers. They discovered important differences in their ‘microRNA’ genetic material. Mental health issues Controversy often surrounds the diagnosis of sex addiction because it often occurs alongside other mental health issues. The study’s senior author, Professor Jussi Jokinen, said: “To our knowledge, our study is the first to implicate dysregulated epigenetic mechanisms of both DNA methylation and microRNA activity and the involvement of oxytocin in the brain among patients seeking treatment for hypersexuality. “Further research will be needed to investigate the role of microRNA-4456 and oxytocin in hypersexual disorder, but our results suggest it could be worthwhile to examine the benefits of drug and psychotherapy to reduce the activity of oxytocin.” Last year the World Health Organisation declared sex addiction a mental disorder for the first time.
Celebrities with sex addiction
Several celebs have confessed to having suffered with sex addiction in the past. Notably, Russell Brand admitted that he had been affected, saying that sex provided him with “a breathing space, when you’re outside of yourself and your own head”.