Having a high libido can be completely normal. However, if your desire for sex is out of control and negatively impacts your health, relationships or work, it’s a problem.
Compulsive sexual behavior is often referred to as sex addiction. It includes excessive, uncontrollable sex or masturbation and is considered a serious mental health issue.
A person’s libido can fluctuate over time, but if it drops significantly and is not accompanied by other health issues, it could be a sign of an underlying problem. A doctor will ask about your family history, current stressors, emotional well-being, relationships and physical health to work out the cause of low libido.
Many men and women lose interest in sex for emotional reasons. They may blame their lack of libido on past trauma or on depression and anxiety, which can make them feel less attractive or worthy. They can also equate sexual activity with their sense of masculinity, so a drop in libido can have a significant impact on a man’s self-esteem and his relationship with his partner.
Other factors can lead to a low libido, including age-related changes in hormone levels, chronic illness and some medications. Exercise, healthy eating, lower stress levels and stopping smoking or drug use can increase libido. Psychological approaches to dealing with depression, relationship problems and PTSD can help improve libido.
Being overworked, exhausted and stressed out tends to bump sex off the priority list. If a person’s lack of desire is causing distress or strain in their relationships, a therapist who specializes in couples and/or sex therapy can help. If a medical issue is to blame, doctors can prescribe treatments that will restore a person’s libido.
While a high libido is usually harmless, it may become a problem if your sexual desire and behaviours are out of control. This is known as compulsive sexual behaviour disorder, or hypersexuality, and it can be a sign of underlying health problems. Signs of an overly high libido include sexual desire even when you’re not with someone, thinking about sex most of the time and experimenting with ways to express your sex drive (sexting, new positions or different partners).
If your sex-related urges are causing issues for you or your partner then it’s important to address them. You might have difficulty achieving an erection or experience pain during sex. In some cases, this is due to depression which can sap the pleasure from sex, or an imbalance of neurotransmitters in your brain, as the Cleveland Clinic explains.
You might also find that you are using sex as a way to cope with other emotional challenges or feel unfulfilled after sex. In these cases, you can seek help from a sex therapist or a mental health professional. You can also try to channel your sexual energy into something non-sexual, such as a creative or physical pursuit that brings you pleasure or pride. Popular choices include long distance running, dancing, playing guitar or learning a skill like cooking or woodworking.
The sex drive is personal to each person, so what is considered “normal” for one may be different for another. However, most people with high libido do not need treatment. As long as the desire is consensual, healthy and doesn’t interfere with other areas of life, it’s usually not a problem. However, if sexual thoughts and behaviors are causing distress or negatively impacting relationships, it is important to seek help from a professional.
A therapist can work with you to uncover the reasons for your increased desire and teach you techniques to manage it. If an underlying medical issue is to blame, treating it can restore your normal libido. Additionally, eating more aphrodisiac foods and exercising regularly can boost your libido. Finally, reducing stress levels and stopping some medications (such as beta-blockers or certain birth control pills) can also have a positive effect on your libido.
There is a line, though, where an overly high libido can become problematic. If you’re preoccupied with sexual urges or fantasies to the point where they cause mental distress, interfere with your relationship or lifestyle or lead to compulsive behavior like masturbation, it is time to seek help from a mental health or addiction specialist. This type of problem is often referred to as hypersexuality or sex addiction. Depending on the cause, treatment can be as simple as changing your medication or more complex.
There is nothing wrong with a high or low libido as long as it does not cause distress or problems for you or your partner. But if you suddenly start wanting less or more sexual activity, it may be a sign that something else is going on.
If you find that your sexual urges are making your life miserable, it is time to talk to a professional. A medical professional can determine if any underlying health issues or hormone imbalances are contributing to your heightened libido, and they can recommend the best course of treatment for you.
A health professional can also suggest that you try to channel your sexual energy into other pursuits, which could help you overcome your heightened desire. For example, some people derive great pleasure, relief and pride from pursuing activities such as long-distance running, playing the guitar, abseiling, DIY projects and yoga.
Another way to reduce unwanted sexual urges is by avoiding situations and environments that might trigger them. This can include hook up sites, sex parties and sex professionals, which are not sustainable ways to satisfy your sexual cravings, and they can be harmful to your mental and physical health. Instead, Berry suggests talking to a therapist to work on your feelings and refocusing your attention toward non-sexual things, like hobbies, socializing with friends, eating healthy and getting enough sleep.