Nearly one in ten Americans struggles to control sexual urges

November 9, 2018 by Serena Gordon, Healthday Reporter

(HealthDay)—The #MeToo movement has given many Americans a glimpse into an unfamiliar world that may have left many wondering, "What were they thinking?"

It turns out they might not have been thinking much at all. New research suggests that almost 9 percent of people in the United States have distress caused by difficulty controlling their sexual feelings, urges and behaviors.

But the gap between genders was very small: Just over 10 percent of men showed compulsive sexual behavior, compared to 7 percent of women.

"Historically, it's been thought that compulsive sexual behaviors affect mostly men. But women are showing that they are experiencing difficulty controlling sexual urges and behavior, too," said study author Janna Dickenson. She is a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Minnesota, in Minneapolis.

Dickenson explained that such behaviors can vary widely. "Some people might masturbate excessively so that it interferes with the ability to work, or someone might be paying for sex so much that it's damaging financially," she explained, adding that sexual behaviors become a problem when they influence your life in a way that's destructive.

So, does that mean people like Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein should be excused for aberrant and potentially criminal behavior?

"When anyone faces a problem and there's a classification for that problem, it doesn't mean that it excuses that behavior. [In these cases], there's this link between hypersexuality and non-consent, but these are two separate issues that can be hard to tease apart," Dickenson explained.

Michael Klein, a psychologist at Gracie Square Hospital in New York City, said it's difficult to comment on individual cases, but "it's possible that these high-profile cases reflect examples of compulsive sexual behavior. However, it may also be better explained by something else, such as taking advantage of a power dynamic, in the context of another [psychological] condition, or any combination of factors."

Mental health professionals have long debated whether or not sexual addiction is an actual addiction or an impulse disorder. What is common to problematic sexual behavior, no matter how it is classified, is substantial difficulty controlling sexual feelings, urges and behaviors to the point that it causes distress and impairment.

Distress and impairment includes neglecting social activities or personal health, repeatedly attempting to control sexual behavior unsuccessfully, and engaging in sexual behavior despite adverse consequences or minimal pleasure from his or her sexual activities, according to the researchers.

Using this definition, the study team asked more than 2,000 people to complete a screening test for compulsive sexual disorder. The study participants were already a part of a nationally representative study on sexual health and behavior. They were all between the ages of 18 and 50.

The researchers expected between 1 percent and 6 percent of the study group would meet the definition of compulsive sexual behavior disorder (CSBD). Instead, 8.6 percent of those screened were found to possibly have CSBD.

Dickenson said it's important to note that this study only used a screening tool. Someone who tests positive on this test should be referred for further evaluation.

Klein added that "a large study such as this helps to increase our understanding of and related phenomena, as well as provide for future directions of study," but there are a lot of issues left to sort out.

"There is a difference between feelings and actions, and thoughts and actions; having trouble controlling urges is not the same as acting on urges," he said. And cultural, social and religious norms and beliefs can impact how someone feels about sexual behavior.

Both experts said that if someone is concerned about their sexual behaviors, they should seek help.

"People need to realize there is a wide spectrum of sexuality. Thoughts and feelings are one thing, but that you are unable to control is another matter. If certain behaviors interfere with your life or cause distress for you or others, you may want to speak with a professional," Klein said.

The study was published online Nov. 9 in the journal JAMA Network Open.

Explore further: CDC: some sexual minorities have higher sexual risk behaviors

More information: JAMA Network Open (2018). jamanetwork.com/journals/jaman … etworkopen.2018.4468

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Osiris1
2 / 5 (4) Nov 09, 2018
Suppose some who read this will divide 8.7 into 100 and see that probably one in fourteen offhand flirts just 'may' wind up in the guy 'getting lucky'.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (1) Nov 10, 2018
We're tropical animals in a temperate environment. An invasive species. We're preoccupied with reproduction all the time because we evolved as weak, slow, defenseless animals in an environment of maximum attrition.

Perhaps we can transition to seasonal reproduction, mating seasons, like neanderthal.

Perhaps future humans will decide to forego all the distraction and trouble their genitals create, and opt out of them altogether. Outsource reproduction and gestation to much safer and more dependable machines. Isnt this the trend with the emphasis on non-reproductive sex and all the many new genders?

Reduce the birthrate, protect the unborn, eliminate sexual preoccupation... save the species.
Whydening Gyre
not rated yet Nov 10, 2018
I don't struggle with sexual urges. My wife's menopause took care o' that....
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (1) Nov 11, 2018
I don't struggle with sexual urges. My wife's menopause took care o' that....
You sell jewelry yes? Why do people wear jewelry? To attract potential mates.

Everything we do is affected by the sexual urge. I wonder what society would be like without it, but I know it would be nothing like the one we're living in now.
Eikka
not rated yet Nov 12, 2018
Alright Dr. Freud.

save the species.


From what?

If you start "conserving" humanity for any purpose, you'd just be creating a society of robots that go through the same motions forever and ever. Without the potential to change for better or worse; without the potential to die you might as well not be alive.

In fact, it's a fate worse than death for any conscious being to be reduced into the state of an automaton. Saving people from themselves, if successful, would be the greatest crime against humanity imaginable. A planet full of lobotomized robots.
Whydening Gyre
not rated yet Nov 12, 2018
I don't struggle with sexual urges. My wife's menopause took care o' that....

Sorry, A Jackie Mason 'ish' attempt at humor.
You sell jewelry yes? Why do people wear jewelry? To attract potential mates.

The majority of my customers are females over 45. Not much procreation drive going on there. Just doin' it cuz it feels pretty good.
Everything we do is affected by the sexual urge.

Who knew sex was what caused me to cut down a tree, today...
I wonder what society would be like without it, but I know it would be nothing like the one we're living in now.

Way less fun...
TheGhostofOtto1923
not rated yet Nov 14, 2018
The majority of my customers are females over 45. Not much procreation drive going on there. Just doin' it cuz it feels pretty good
Of course there is. WHY does it make them feel good? Reproduce until death - the tropical mantra. The female urge to enhance and attract is the source of your profits.

Truth is, throughout the pleistocene and in much of the world today, birthing is a major cause of death.

It could be that menopause is another form of birth control which evolved to protect older women from maternal mortality.
TheGhostofOtto1923
not rated yet Nov 14, 2018
Who knew sex was what caused me to cut down a tree, today...
Maintaining your territory helps to protect your family. Your genes need to survive into the next generation.
Way less fun...
Really? No overpopulation, no tribalism, no primping and posturing, no reason to LIE to protect your tribe and your repro rights... no conflict, no seething emotions, no distraction...
TheGhostofOtto1923
not rated yet Nov 14, 2018
In fact, it's a fate worse than death for any conscious being to be reduced into the state of an automaton. Saving people from themselves, if successful, would be the greatest crime against humanity imaginable. A planet full of lobotomized robots
Eikka thinks there would be no reason to go on without the urge to reproduce.

"It takes a village to raise a child is an African proverb..." The universal tribe, the tribe of humankind. It would survive and thrive in much better shape than it is now.
TheGhostofOtto1923
not rated yet Nov 14, 2018
And it's not psychology, its biology. Dr Darwin I presume.

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