Article on mayo clinic site addresses sex addiction

An article on the Mayo Clinic website gives a decent overview of sex addiction (in this case referred to as “compulsive sexual behavior”). While it’s not the best overview I’ve seen about sex addiction, this article is worth mentioning, if only because it’s got the weight of a well-respected institution (Mayo Clinic) behind it. Here are some excerpts:

Symptoms:

In general, if your sexual behavior is compulsive, you may have these behavior patterns:
* Having multiple sexual partners or extramarital affairs
* Having sex with anonymous partners or prostitutes
* Avoiding emotional involvement in sexual relationships
* Using commercial sexually explicit phone and Internet services
* Engaging in excessive masturbation
* Frequently using pornographic materials
* Engaging in masochistic or sadistic sex
* Exposing yourself in public (exhibitionism)

People with compulsive sexual behavior often use sex as an escape from other problems, such as loneliness, depression, anxiety or stress. You may continue to engage in risky sexual behavior despite serious consequences, such as health problems, the potential for sexually transmitted diseases and the loss of important relationships.

Men and women with compulsive sexual behavior may be married or in a committed relationship and appear to live otherwise normal lives. In reality, they often have trouble establishing and maintaining emotional intimacy. They seek gratification through sexual behavior, but are unlikely to achieve emotional fulfillment and their lives may feel empty.

In the section on treatment, the concern or frustration I have is that therapy is listed at the top, then medications (such as anti-depressants), with the third option being support groups … almost as if they are an after-thought. I would suggest that the order should be reversed. Then on the next page there is a great list of suggestions, but they are listed under the unfortunate heading “Lifestyle and home remedies.” Here is that list:

* Stick to your treatment plan. Take medications as directed and attend scheduled therapy sessions. Remember that it can be hard work and that you may have occasional setbacks.
* Education. Educate yourself about compulsive sexual behavior so that you can better understand its causes and treatments.
* Discover what drives you. Identify situations, thoughts and feelings that may trigger sexual compulsions so that you can take steps to manage them.
* Avoid risky situations. Don’t jeopardize your health or that of others by engaging in risky sexual practices.
* Get treatment for substance abuse or other mental health problems. Your addictions, depression, anxiety and stress can feed off each other, leading to a cycle of unhealthy behavior.
* Find healthy outlets. Explore healthy ways to re-channel your sexual compulsions through exercise and recreational activities.
* Learn relaxation and stress management. Try such stress reduction techniques as meditation, yoga or tai-chi.
* Stay focused on your goal. Recovery from compulsive sexual behavior can take time. Keep motivated by keeping your recovery goals in mind and reminding yourself that you can repair damaged relationships, friendships and financial problems.

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