Women and Sexual Addiction

Article Contributed by Crystal Karges, MS, RDN, IBCLC for Addiction Hope

Sad Women and Sexual AddictionSexual addiction is a serious condition that impacts a widespread number of Americans across the nation. The National Council on Sexual Addiction Compulsivity has estimated that six to eight percent of Americans are sex addicts, which translates to approximately 18 – 24 million people in the United States alone [1].

Men and women alike are affected by sexual addiction, as both sufferers of this condition and as loved ones who are directly impacted by the consequences of sex addicts.

The Stigmas of Sexual Addiction

Unfortunately, there are many stigmas surrounding sexual addiction that may enshroud sufferers with shame, confusion, and fear. Having a misunderstanding about the complexities involved with sexual addiction can prevent treatment, healing, and recovery from this condition.

One of the common stigmas about sexual addiction is that this is a disorder that primarily affects men. The reality, however, is that women are also impacted by sexual addiction and often ignored or overlooked.

Added Isolation for Women and Sexual Addiction

Approximately one in six women struggle with an addiction to pornography, and many women with sexual addiction engage in behaviors such as casual sex, having multiple partners, or affairs [1]. The stereotypes that are often used to characterize sex addicts typify men as the culprit of this disorder, leaving women who do battle sexual addiction isolated.

Many of the stigmas that are believed about women and sexual addiction may include the following:

  • Women may be more prone to “neediness” in a relationship: Signs of sexual addiction may be misread for attachment, dependency, or insecurity.
  • If a woman is struggling with sex addiction, the signs would be obvious: Women may be more willing to reach out for help for other mental health or physical conditions, but the shame associated with sexual addiction can be debilitating.
  • A woman who deals with sex addiction might be more prone to secrecy, isolation, and seclusion, which make any abnormal behaviors less apparent.
  • Consequences that may result from sexual addiction are similar for both men and women: Women who suffer from sexual addiction may have similar behaviors and patterns as their male counterparts, such as excessive masturbation or pornography use. However, the effects that may result are different for women than men.
  • Women with sexual addiction may suffer consequences unique to their gender, such as unplanned pregnancies or sexually transmitted diseases.

Differences Between the Motivations of Sex Addiction

worried-girl-413690_640There are also plausible differences in the reasons for which men and women may become addicted to sexual behaviors. Some research has alluded to the idea that women sex addicts engage in abnormal sexual activity for reasons that involve control, power, and attention.

Women that may have been the victim of sexual or emotional abuse may develop a sexual addiction as a means of feeling empowered, or as a way of resisting emotional abandonment [2].

Signs of Sexual Addiction

If you are concerned that you or a woman you care for is struggling with an addiction to sex, be aware of these signs that might be apparent in the case of sexual addiction:

Compulsive sexual behaviors:

Women who are addicted to sex may be unable to control their sexual behaviors, no matter the resolve they may feel to do so. This may lead to repeated affairs, sexual misconduct, recurring pornography use and more.

Obsessive thoughts revolving around sex:

Women who are struggling with a sex addiction may ignore priorities, needs, and other relationships in their lives in planning or thinking about sexual behaviors. The many aspects of their lives will begin to suffer from their preoccupation with sex, such as their social life, relationships, professional career, finances, and more.

Persistent engagement in sexual behaviors:

rope-bridge-417184_640Although detrimental consequences may result from sexual addiction, women will continue to engage in risky behaviors, even amidst negative effects. The patterns of sexual behavior that may be exhibited will become repetitive and persistent even if a woman is suffering physically, mentally, or emotionally.

Sexual addiction is a reality that many women struggle with on a daily basis. Understanding the possible causes of sexual addiction in women and breaking the common stigmas that surround this disorder can help women who are struggling receive the help they need.

Having professional assistance can be an invaluable resource for women, giving them hope and strength for overcoming this addiction.


  1. Be Broken Ministries, “Statistics on Porn & Sex Addiction”, http://bebroken.com/bb/resources/newsletters/stats.print.shtml
  2. Psychology Today, “Unseen and Unnoticed: Women and Sex Addiction”, http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/what-the-wild-things-are/201011/unseen-and-unnoticed-women-and-sex-addiction

The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of addictions. These are not necessarily the views of Addiction Hope, but an effort to offer a discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.

We at Addiction Hope understand that addictions result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an addiction, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.

Published on October 16, 2014
Last Updated & Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on June 4, 2018

Published on AddictionHope.com