The epidemiology and phenomenology of compulsive sexual behavior

CNS Spectr. 2000 Jan;5(1):26-72. doi: 10.1017/s1092852900012645.


Compulsive sexual behavior (CSB) is characterized by inappropriate or excessive sexual behaviors or cognitions that lead to subjective distress or impaired functioning. Both abnormal (paraphilic) and conventional (nonparaphilic) forms of sexual behavior are usually included in the definition. CSB is reported to affect 3% to 6% of the general population in the United States, occurring more frequently in men. It typically begins in the late teens or early twenties and is chronic or intermittent. The disorder has been described as a progression through four stages: preoccupation, ritualization, gratification, and despair. Men with CSB typically focus on physical sexual gratification; women focus on romantic or emotional aspects of sexuality. Psychiatric comorbidity is common, particularly substance use, mood, anxiety, and personality disorders. CSB can lead to medical complications. Risk factors are thought to include family history and childhood abuse.