Hypersexuality, or having an excessively overactive sex drive, is classified as a mental disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). People with this diagnosis also have lowered sexual inhibitions and are generally obsessed with sex to the point that their lives are deeply affected.
People with hypersexuality often engage in risky sexual behaviors, like sex with prostitutes and unprotected sex with numerous strangers, which can put them at risk for sexually transmitted infections. Those who are in monogamous relationships may not be able to be faithful to their partners. In extreme cases, hypersexual people may be sexually abusive to others. As with many other sexual conditions, people who are hypersexual don't always seek help. They may not view their impulses or behavior as problematic, instead seeing their sexual prowess as a source of pride.
Hypersexuality can also occur in people with other disorders. People with bipolar or schizoaffective disorder sometimes experience hypersexuality as part of their mania. Patients with neurological disorders such as Alzheimer's disease or traumatic brain injuries sometimes experience it as well. Some medications may even cause hypersexuality, such as the drugs used to treat Parkinson's disease.
Treatment for hypersexuality varies depending on whether it's tied to another disorder. Mood-stabilizing drugs like lithium can lower sex drives overall, and drugs that reduce testosterone levels have been helpful for some patients. Talk therapy can also help people recognize their behavior and work to curb their impulses.
What about people who want a lot of sex ... but only in their sleep? Next, we'll look at sexsomnia.