Compulsive sexual behavior: a review of the literature

J Behav Addict. 2015 Jun;4(2):37-43. doi: 10.1556/2006.4.2015.003. Epub 2015 May 27.


Background and aims: Compulsive sexual behavior (CSB) is a common disorder featuring repetitive, intrusive and distressing sexual thoughts, urges and behaviors that negatively affect many aspects of an individual's life. This article reviews the clinical characteristics of CSB, cognitive aspects of the behaviors, and treatment options.

Methods: We reviewed the literature regarding the clinical aspects of CSB and treatment approaches.

Results: The literature review of the clinical aspects of CSB demonstrates that there is likely a substantial heterogeneity within the disorder. In addition, the treatment literature lacks sufficient evidence-based approaches to develop a clear treatment algorithm.

Conclusions: Although discussed in the psychological literature for years, CSB continues to defy easy categorization within mental health. Further research needs to be completed to understand where CSB falls within the psychiatric nosology.

Keywords: addiction; compulsivity; impulsivity; sex; treatment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Compulsive Behavior* / diagnosis
  • Compulsive Behavior* / psychology
  • Compulsive Behavior* / rehabilitation
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Sexual Behavior / psychology*

Grant support

This research was supported by a Center for Excellence in Gambling Research grant by the National Center for Responsible Gaming to Dr. Jon Grant of the University of Chicago.