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Do You Feel Addicted to Sex? Experts Explain Where the Problem Lies

The “love hormone” oxytocin may explain why some men develop hypersexuality disorder, also known as sex addiction, a new study suggests. Do you feel addicted to sex?

Researchers have linked these disorders to higher levels of oxytocin in the blood compared to men who do not experience sex addiction. Hypersexual behavior—sometimes called sexual addiction or hypersexuality—is defined as an excessive fascination with sexual fantasies, urges, or behaviors. Although sexuality is healthy, hypersexuality can be detrimental to a person’s quality of life because the urge is difficult to resist and can cause anxiety. As a result, a person often has to sacrifice their work and personal relationships.

The study, published in the “Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism”, analyzed blood samples from 64 men with confirmed hypersexual disorder. Their blood was compared with blood samples from 38 men who had no known sex addiction.

Preliminary results revealed that men with sex addiction had higher blood levels of oxytocin compared to those without the disorder, and that higher levels were associated with higher rates of hypersexual behavior.

Oxytocin, sometimes called the “love hormone,” is a naturally occurring hormone in the human body. Although normal levels of oxytocin in the blood lend a helping hand to healthy sexual behavior, this new study highlights the potential effects of elevated levels in men and suggests that cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is an effective way to reduce oxytocin levels as well as manage sex addiction and thereby related behavior.

During the study, the men were treated with cognitive behavioral therapy, after which their oxytocin levels were again tested. Blood tests showed that after a course of CBT, oxytocin levels in hypersexual men decreased compared to baseline. “We found that men with compulsive sexual behavior disorder had higher levels of oxytocin than men without the disorder,” the study authors said. “Cognitive behavioral therapy reduced both hypersexual behavior and oxytocin levels.”

“Oxytocin plays an important role when a person feels addicted to sex, and this may be a potential avenue for treatment,” the researchers concluded. Although the study points to a biological source of male hypersexual behavior, this doesn’t mean that people with elevated oxytocin levels are powerless to do something about their disorder. With appropriate treatment, at least for oxytocin-related hypersexuality, it is nice to know that it is possible to regain normal sexual function and behavior.

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