Hypersexual behavior in an online sample of males: associations with personal distress and functional impairment

J Sex Med. 2013 Dec;10(12):2996-3005. doi: 10.1111/jsm.12160. Epub 2013 Apr 11.


Introduction: The population of individuals reporting hypersexual behavior is heterogeneous. Prior research has implicated the importance of personal distress and functional impairment, as both may serve as indicators of problem severity and relevance. Still, little is known about associations with distress and impairment following hypersexuality.

Aim: The purpose of this study was to investigate personal distress and functional impairment in a community sample of male self-identified "sex addicts" and to explore the associations with related variables.

Methods: Three hundred forty-nine men completed an online survey that included questions about personal distress, functional impairment, motivation for behavior change, type of hypersexual behaviors, time spent on sexual behavior, and progression of sexual urges. The survey included the Sexual Addiction Screening Test-Revised (SAST-R) core.

Main outcome measure: Specific survey questions about personal distress and functional impairment in six life areas were used to assess these variables. Chi-square and P-values were calculated to explore the interrelations among them.

Results: There were 75.3% (N = 253) who reported feeling distressed due to hypersexual behavior. Functional impairment in at least one life area was specified by 77.4% (N = 270), and most participants (56.2%) reported impairment regarding partner relationships. Personal distress and functional impairment in three areas were associated with a strong motivation for behavior change. Distress was associated with online pornography use, masturbation, and/or sexual contact with changing partners. The progression of sexual urges was related to distress, while time spent on sexual behavior was not. There were 92.9% of the distressed participants who scored above the SAST-R core scale cut-off, but also 59.0% of the participants with little or no distress scored in this range.

Conclusions: Results underline the particular role of problems in social or intimate relationships in association with hypersexuality. Clustering individuals with regard to their specific sexual behavior and impairment pattern seems to be promising for further research.

Keywords: Hypersexual Disorder; Hypersexuality; Sexual Addiction; Sexual Compulsivity; Sexual Impulsivity.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anxiety / epidemiology*
  • Coitus / psychology
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Libido
  • Male
  • Masturbation / psychology
  • Middle Aged
  • Motivation
  • Paraphilic Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Paraphilic Disorders / psychology*
  • Sexual Behavior*
  • Sexual Partners / psychology
  • Young Adult