Sex addiction is not just a guy thing; it can be found in women too. Sex addiction is a process addiction, classified by compulsive sexual acts and/or thoughts, is caused by a malfunction in the brain’s reward circuitry, and requires multidimensional help to treat the root of the disease.
Shame is an unpleasant bedfellow as well as a painful reality for those suffering from sex addiction. For women, grappling with the idea that they may have a sex addiction can be particularly difficult when society has largely defined it as an issue affecting men. The Cabin Singapore understands that anyone engaging in sex, women included, can develop an unhealthy relationship with it. For women reflecting on their sexual behaviour, knowing what constitutes a sex addiction is an important step towards rebuilding a positive sex life.
In Her Own Words: Sex Addiction from the Perspective of a Former Addict
“I felt like I needed to have a combination of shame and pleasure in order to feel satisfied with a sexual experience,” Erica Garza, a recovery sex addict, told Business Insider. Garza, the author of Getting Off: One Woman’s Journey through Sex and Porn Addiction, explained that engaging in risky and sometimes ‘revolting’ sexual behaviour with multiple partners helped her achieve that satisfaction.
During the height of her addiction, Garza would also skip social outings to watch porn, and found release in going to peep shows. Garza recognised that this disclosure would be shocking to some because of traditionally held beliefs about female sexual behaviour. “Because of that idea that men want sex more, when women don’t fit that narrative, they feel bad about it,” she said.
There is also a misconception that women who have a sex addiction have experienced sexually-related trauma in the past. While this is certainly true for some struggling with sex addiction, for Garza this was not the case. “When your story doesn’t sit into that narrative of trauma or sexual abuse, you feel this extra layer of shame because you feel like you can’t talk about it. Like your pain isn’t justified. And I don’t think anything diffuses shame more than being able to talk about it.”
Factors Contributing to Sex Addiction in Women
Underlying issues driving sex addiction can be complex. In some cases, co-occurring psychological disorders or additional addictions may be present. In other cases, such as Garza’s, women report using sex as an escape from stress and insecurity.
Some psychologists link sex addiction to two other issues: power and loneliness. Women who have experienced physical, sexual or emotional abuse may seek out situations repeatedly in which they can master or overcome that trauma. In these cases, the addiction is often linked to regaining power and a sense of control. For other women, emotional neglect can play a significant role in the addiction, leading them to constantly seek fulfilment through sexual contact.
Sex as an Addiction
Though the causes vary, the effects of sex addiction on the brain are similar to any other addiction. Addiction is rooted in the midbrain, which controls the body’s reward and survival responses. When the midbrain mistakes feelings of pleasure as being central to survival, a cycle of addiction can occur.
Sex addictions can result in serious negative consequences to both physical and psychological health, and can have lasting impacts on relationships. Some of the potential risks for women include:
- Sexually transmitted infections
- Unwanted pregnancy
- Failed personal relationships
- Financial or professional problems
High Sex Drive or Sex Addiction?
If you’re finding it hard to tell whether you’re simply experiencing a higher sex drive or grappling with sex addiction, here are some questions to ask yourself:
- Do you continue to seek out sex despite feelings of terror or shame?
- Do you feel a need to engage in riskier behaviours in order to gain satisfaction from sex?
- Do you find it difficult to stop or control your sexual urges?
- Do you find it difficult to stop thinking about sex during everyday activities?
- Does your sex life negatively impact other areas of your life, such as family, work or finances?
If your sex life is causing negative impacts on your life, but you feel like you can’t control it, it is possible that you are struggling with sex addiction.
How The Cabin Singapore Can Help
If you think you may have a sex addiction, you need to talk to someone who can take a look at your specific circumstances and – with total clarity and confidence – give you an answer.
The Cabin Singapore has years of experience treating women struggling with the same issue. Our world-class outpatient programme allows clients to engage in treatment without impacting their personal and professional commitments. We utilise a unique Recovery Zones method to deal with process addictions such as sex addiction, for which total abstinence is not an option.
This approach addresses the addiction at its root, using Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, 12-Step facilitation, and mindfulness techniques to help clients regain control of their sexuality. We rely on certified clinical professionals to deliver our programmes, which have a 96% completion rate.
For those who feel they would benefit from treatment in an environment far away from familiar triggers, The Cabin Chiang Mai offers a world-class inpatient facility where clients can focus fully on their recovery.
There’s no shame in reaching out for help in regaining control of your sex life. If you are concerned that your sexual behaviour is becoming destructive, please call us today to begin the path to recovery.