What is Out of Control Sexual Behavior?

Out of control sexual behavior (OCSB) is a non-diagnostic term used to describe men and women who experience significant difficulties regulating their sexual thoughts, behavior, or urges despite repeated harmful consequences. Harmful consequences may include problems with relationships, occupation, finances, physical and mental health, and drug and alcohol recovery.

Other terms include sexual compulsive behavior, sex addiction and hypersexual behavior. Currently, scientific consensus has not crystalized around one diagnosis or etiological understanding of this problem. However, research does identify an array of interrelated factors that contribute to sexual behavior dysregulation requiring an comprehensive approach for maintaining sexual health.

Symptoms of OCSB

For many men and women, their sexual urges, thoughts or behaviors are in direct conflict with their sexual health, their sexual values, or generates problems in various life areas. Symptoms may include:

  • Repeated, distressing and intrusive sexual thoughts, fantasies and urges

  • Repetitive harmful, embarrassing or humiliating consequences from sexual behavior

  • Harboring significant secrets or double life from spouse/partner, family or employer

  • Preoccupied thoughts of sex or planning next sexual activity

  • Continued sexual behavior despite recurrent negative consequences

  • Sexually transmitted infections and unwanted pregnancies (or risk thereof)

  • Negative consequences such as problems with relationships, occupation, finances, physical and mental health, and drug and alcohol recovery

Additionally, the assessment process is designed to prevent prematurely labeling thoughts, urges or behaviors as OCSB. For example, sometimes fundamental sexual values conflict between you and your spouse/partner, with your faith or religion, or within yourself. A values conflict is not a symptom of OCSB. Sometimes people are distressed that an aspect of their sexual interest is unconventional. An unconventional turn-on is not an OCSB symptom.

To avoid mislabeling your behavior as OCSB, sexually compulsive or sex addiction, a comprehensive clinical assessment is recommended.

If you are interested in joining a Men's Sexual Health group either as conjunctive to individual therapy or at the prime method of treatment, learn more here about my group offerings.

All above information is taken from Michael Vigorito, LMFT, CGP, CST who I have trained and consulted with along with Doug Braun-Harvey, LMFT, CGP, CST authors of the book, "Treating Out of Control Sexual Behavior: Rethinking Sex Addiction"