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What Is a Nymphomaniac?

Nymphomania is a mental disorder marked by compulsive sexual behavior. Compulsions are unwanted actions, or rituals, that a person engages in repeatedly without being able to control them. In the case of nymphomania, people act out their compulsions by engaging in risky behaviors such as promiscuity. Whether or not nymphomania qualifies as a true mental illness is often debated in the medical community, but evidence suggests that compulsive sexual behavior is a real and serious illness. Nymphomania can happen to any adult, though it is thought that it may be more common in women and homosexual men. Technically, the term “nymphomaniac” refers to a woman, though that definition has expanded to include anyone who engages in risky compulsive sexual behavior. Also, nymphomania may include problems with thinking, unwanted repetitive thoughts (obsession), and feelings of guilt, shame or inadequacy.

Symptoms and Dangers of Nymphomaniacs

Most people enjoy sexual activity, but when a person is distressed greatly when not involved with sexual interaction, it may be recognized as excessive sexual drive. Obsessive thoughts that center on sex as well as addictions to pornography may be signs of a problem with this sexual disorder. People that have multiple sexual partners without having any kind of emotional attachment to them may also have a problem with excessive sexual drive. If any of the symptoms appear, getting treatment is recommended before the problem leads to other dangers. Here are some symptoms of nymphomania:

  • Distress caused by lack of sexual interaction
  • Obsessive thoughts about sex
  • Many sexual partners
  • Long time spent looking at pornography
  • Lack of emotional contact with sexual partners


The causes of sexual addiction remain unclear. Addiction takes root in the reward center of the brain. It may occur when certain parts of the brain mistake pleasure responses for survival mechanisms. The midbrain is the section of the brain that handles the body's reward system and survival instincts. As sexual activity creates a rush of dopamine, the "feel-good" chemical in the brain, this triggers the feeling of pleasure. The midbrain then mistakes this feeling of pleasure as being central to survival.

Some studies have found a higher frequency of addictive sexual behavior in people from dysfunctional families. A person with sexual addiction is more likely to have been abused than other people. A significant number of people recovering from sexual addiction have reported some type of addiction among family members. It can occur alongside another addiction.


There is no one single cure for excessive sexual drive, but you can get therapy and counseling with trained therapists and sexologists who specialize in sexual dysfunctions like excessive sexual drive. They can assist with all the issues that come with nymphomania and help you get a better and less obsessed sex life. Psychotherapy and counseling can help with teaching how to deal with the sexual urges that appear so that they don't overwhelm and start to control your life.

  • Self-help organizations offer 12-step programs to help the individual in self-managing the condition.
  • Residential treatment programs are available for individuals with various addictive disorders. These are in-patient programs, during which the individual lives on-site at the facility and receives care from specialized therapists.
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) provides a variety of techniques that help the individual change their behavior. CBT can equip a person to avoid relapses and reprogram harmful sexual behaviors.
  • Prescription medications, such as Prozac, may be prescribed to reduce sexual urges, but the drug has not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat this condition.

The support of friends and family is extremely important for a person recovering from an addiction. Sexual addiction, due to its behavioral nature, can be difficult for others to understand and tolerate, especially if it has already led to damage in relationships.