It is perfectly natural to have sexual impulses. However, thoughts of sex shouldn’t preoccupy a person to such an extent that it gets in the way of their relationship or affects their job or finances. So are there different kinds of sex addiction that can be mapped in the brain? And what kinds of treatments are possible to help an individual with sex addiction?

Let’s first look at how sex can be addictive. The experts don’t seem to have reached a consensus on what to call sex addiction, but it is apparent that there are individuals, mainly men, who have difficulty with impulse control when it comes to sex. Apparently, there are certain chemicals, i.e. endorphins, released in the brain of such individuals during and immediately after sexual release, which alter their mood. Similar to a drug high, the endorphins stimulate the brain’s pleasure centers, and this is what can be addictive. Therefore, when an individual repeats the sexual behavior, it triggers the chemical response, altering the brain chemistry, thus needing more of it to feel normal.

There is very little scientific evidence to support any one biological cause leading to sexually compulsive behaviors. The fact is that sex addiction isn’t understood nearly as well as drug addiction. But findings show that:

  • Damage to the frontal lobe may trigger dis-inhibited behavior, explaining to a certain extent the increase in sexual activity and the decrease in control among people who have neurological conditions
  • Individuals who take stimulants that increase serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine in the brain are more prone to hypersexualized behavior.
  • There is a possibility that the areas in the brain responsible for reward and pleasure are affected by sex hormones, which facilitate the response towards sex and the desire for it.

Can the Sex Response be Overridden?

The question remains if it is possible to override the pleasure-seeking instinct? The answer is yes. As a matter of fact, the power of reasoning in the brain is what can help an individual with a sex addiction to stop the sexual behavior and control their impulses. The individual must understand the biological influences to be able to control their urges. Then, instead of choosing sex, the individual can choose bonding, attachment and commitment as alternative expressions.

Of course this requires a lot of practice and self growth to begin with. Individuals with sexual compulsions are also advised to seek out counselors who specialize in treating their behavior.

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