If your sexual thoughts, urges and behaviors are taking up too much of your time, money or energy, you may be dealing with sex addiction. While you’re focusing on sex, your relationship with other people might suffer and you may miss out on work, family or social activities. Your life can feel unmanageable. You might even find that you have no pleasure or satisfaction in sexual relationships anymore.

Relationship counselling service Relate defines sex addiction as an inability to control your behavior, despite the negative consequences. This could include compulsive masturbation, compulsive pornography use and visiting prostitutes. It could also include paraphilia, such as exhibitionism (displaying genitals to others), voyeurism, sadomasochism and pedophilia.

Sex addiction isn’t a clinically diagnosed mental health disorder, but it might be a sign of other mental disorders, such as obsessive-compulsive personality disorder and posttraumatic stress disorder. It might also be a sign of drug or alcohol abuse.

Some treatment programs offer a specific focus on sexual addiction, such as Sexual Addicts Anonymous or Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous. These typically follow a recovery model similar to Alcoholics Anonymous, but for sexual addiction rather than substance abuse.

You might also try psychotherapy, such as cognitive behavioral therapy and acceptance and commitment therapy. These therapies help you accept your distress and change the way you think about your behaviors. You can also try medication, such as antidepressants and anti-androgens, which might reduce obsessive thoughts or prevent impulsive sexual behavior.