Sexual Addictions Statistics and Their Impacts [2022 Data]

Sex addiction can be distressing for the addict and their partners. This article provides sexual addictions statistics: answers to their compulsive behavior, its impacts, treatments, and more.

sexual addiction statistics

Sex addiction is often joked about or made light of in movies and TV, but it’s a very real experience for many millions of people worldwide. Sex addicts have difficulty controlling their sexual behavior and often participate in riskier sexual behaviors, hurt themselves and their partners, and more. 

In this article, “sexual addictions” and “sex addiction” are used interchangeably. These addictions may also be referred to as CSB (Compulsive Sexual Behavior), problematic sexual behavior, hypersexuality, hypersexuality disorder, sexual compulsivity, or sexual impulsivity.

Here’s every statistic you need to know about sex addiction and its impacts:

Top Sexual Addictions Statistics You Should Know:

  • Sex addiction is when your thoughts and activities consume your life; it’s not just too much masturbation, pornography, phone sex, cybersex, multiple partners, or more.
  • Between 3 and 6% of the general adult population of the United States of America suffer from sex addiction.
  • One study found that 94.7% of those diagnosed with hypersexuality were men. Only 5.3% were women.
  • 43% of sex addicts suffered from chemical dependency.
  • Multiple addictions are common among sex addicts. Only 34% of sex addicts studied said they had no other addiction.
  • 81% of sex addicts were abused sexually, 97% abused emotionally, and 72% physically.
  •  22.8% of sex addicts have had a relationship end because of it.
  • 27.5% of sex addicts contracted an STI on at least one occasion as a result of hypersexual behavior.
  • 89% of sex addicts said they had engaged in sexual activities with people outside the marriage or primary relationship.
  • 12% of hypersexual patients have excessive unprotected sex with multiple anonymous partners.
  • The average time in recovery from sex addiction was 3.4 years, ranging from 2 months to 14 years.
  • 51% of sex addicts said they had relapsed when asked, “Have you had a significant slip or a relapse?”

What Is Sexual Addiction?

Before we dive into the stats, let’s go over the definition of sexual addiction:

  • Sex addiction is an intense focus on sexual fantasies, urges, or activities that can’t be controlled and harm a person’s health, relationships, career, or other aspects of their life. (Cleveland Clinic, 2022)1
    • The most common term is “sexual addictions” or “sex addiction,” but healthcare professionals may refer to this as any of the following: compulsive sexual behavior, problematic sexual behavior, hypersexuality, hypersexuality disorder, sexual compulsivity, or sexual impulsivity.
  • Sex addiction is when your thoughts and activities consume your life; it’s not just too much masturbation, pornography, phone sex, cybersex, multiple partners, or more. (Cleveland Clinic, 2022)1

  • Signs of sex addiction: (Current Pharmaceutical Design, 2014)2
    • Out-of-control sexual behavior;
    • Inability to stop the sexual behavior;
    • Persistent pursuit of high-risk behavior;
    • Ongoing desire or effort to limit sexual behavior;
    • Sex is used as a primary coping strategy;
    • Presence of the tolerance phenomenon;
    • Severe mood changes associated with sexual activity;
    • Excessive time spent seeking out sex;
    • Excessive time spent being sexual or recovering from sexual experiences;
    • Severe social, physical, and psychological consequences.

Prevalence Of Sex Addiction Among People

How common is sex addiction? Here’s what studies have found:

  • Between 3 and 6% of the general adult population of the United States of America suffer from sex addiction. (Journal of Addiction Research & Therapy, 2018)3
  • It’s estimated that the male-to-female ratio of sex addiction is between 3 and 5% males for every female. (Journal of Addiction Research & Therapy, 2018)3
  • 10.3% of American men and 7.0% of American women experience distress and/or impairment from difficulty controlling their sexual feelings, urges, and behavior. (JAMA Network Open, 2018)4
  • There is a higher prevalence of sexual addiction among sex offenders and among people suffering from a hypersexual disorder. (Journal of Addiction Research & Therapy, 2018)3
  • 90% of people who have a compulsive, impulsive, addictive sexual disorder or a hypersexual disorder also say they have obsessive thoughts and behaviors or sexual fantasies. (Current Pharmaceutical Design, 2014)2

Sex Addicts By The Demographics

Who’s more likely to be addicted to sex, men or women? According to these studies, men are significantly more likely to have sex addictions, and because of this have been studied significantly more often:

  • More men are addicted to sex than women, but women have been studied significantly less. (Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment, 2020)5
    • Studies have shown that 8%-40% of sexual addicts are women (60%-92% are men).
  • 54% of patients began experiencing sexual fantasies, urges, and behaviors before age 18. (The Journal of Sexual Medicine, 2012)6
  • One study found that 94.7% of those diagnosed with hypersexuality were men. (The Journal of Sexual Medicine, 2012)6
    • Only 5.3% were women.
  • 89% of sex addicts were male, and only 11% were female in another study of sex addicts. (Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity: The Journal of Treatment and Prevention, 1998)7
  • How people express their sex addiction varies between the sexes: (Journal of Addiction Research & Therapy, 2018)3
    • Male sex addicts tend to engage in voyeur and anonymous sex.
    • Female sex addicts prefer exhibitionist sex, trading for sex, pain exchange sex, and fantasy sex.

Sex Addicts’ Sexual Behavior

What do sex addicts do? How do they express their behavior? In these studies, many sex addicts do more than just compulsively watch porn. Here’s what they found:

  • 75% of sex addicts studied said they had a problem with compulsive masturbation. (Medix Publishers Amsterdam, 2012)8
  • 56% of hypersexual patients said they compulsively masturbate in another study. (Sexual and Relationship Therapy, 2009)9

  • When people were asked how often they spent a lot of time thinking about sex/masturbation or planned sex during the past year: (Frontiers in Psychology, 2018)10
    • Male
      • Very rarely: 20.5%
      • Rarely: 19.0%
      • Sometimes: 31.7%
      • Often: 20.0%
      • Very often: 8.7%
    • Female
      • Very rarely: 52.6%
      • Rarely: 20.1%
      • Sometimes: 19.4%
      • Often: 6.1%
      • Very often: 1.7%
    • Total
      • Very rarely: 41.4%
      • Rarely: 19.7%
      • Sometimes: 23.7%
      • Often: 11.0%
      • Very often: 4.2%

  • How often people felt an urge to masturbate/have sex more and more during the past year: (Frontiers in Psychology, 2018)10
    • Male
      • Very rarely: 26.4%
      • Rarely: 24.3%
      • Sometimes: 28.4%
      • Often: 14.8%
      • Very often: 6.1%
    • Female
      • Very rarely: 58.7%
      • Rarely: 19.9%
      • Sometimes: 15.4%
      • Often: 4.7%
      • Very often: 1.3%
    • Total
      • Very rarely: 47.4%
      • Rarely: 21.4%
      • Sometimes: 20.0%
      • Often: 8.3%
      • Very often: 3.0%

  • How often people used sex/masturbation to forget about/escape from personal problems during the past year: (Frontiers in Psychology, 2018)10
    • Male
      • Very rarely: 59.3%
      • Rarely: 17.5%
      • Sometimes: 14.4%
      • Often: 5.7%
      • Very often: 3.1%
    • Female
      • Very rarely: 76.6%
      • Rarely: 11.8%
      • Sometimes: 8.4%
      • Often: 2.4%
      • Very often: 0.8%
    • Total
      • Very rarely: 70.6%
      • Rarely: 13.8%
      • Sometimes: 10.5%
      • Often: 3.5%
      • Very often: 1.6%

  • How often people became restless or troubled if they have been stopped from sex/masturbation during the past year: (Frontiers in Psychology, 2018)10
    • Male
      • Very rarely: 53.0%
      • Rarely: 21.0%
      • Sometimes: 16.4%
      • Often: 6.8%
      • Very often: 2.8%
    • Female
      • Very rarely: 81.5%
      • Rarely: 10.1%
      • Sometimes: 6.0%
      • Often: 1.8%
      • Very often: 0.6%
    • Total
      • Very rarely: 71.5%
      • Rarely: 13.9%
      • Sometimes: 9.6%
      • Often: 3.5%
      • Very often: 1.4%

Sex Addiction with Co-occurring Disorders or Addictions

Are people who are addicted to sex also addicts in other ways? Most studies have found that many people have co-occurring addictions and disorders alongside sex addiction:

  • One study found that… (Journal of Addiction Research & Therapy, 2018)3
    • 38% of sex addicts had eating disorders.
    • 26% of sex addicts had compulsive spending.
    • 43% of sex addicts suffered from chemical dependency.
    • 5% of sex addicts had uncontrollable gambling.
    • 28% of sex addicts spend compulsively.
  • Multiple addictions are common among sex addicts. Only 34% of sex addicts studied said they had no other addiction. (Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity: The Journal of Treatment and Prevention, 1998)7

  • Among the sex addicts,… (Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity: The Journal of Treatment and Prevention, 1998)7
    • 45% were also recovering from addiction to alcohol, other drugs, or nicotine.
      • 4% identified nicotine as their only drug of addiction.
    • 23% identified an eating disorder.
    • 10% were workaholics.
    • 9% were compulsive spenders.
    • The remainder identified other addictions.
  • 51% of sex addicts said they were in recovery from sexual co-addiction. (Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity: The Journal of Treatment and Prevention, 1998)7

  • Cybersex Addiction
    • Cybersex is the compulsive use of sexually oriented chat rooms or message boards. (CNS Spectrums, 2009)11
    • 17% of Internet users have had problems with sex on the Internet. (Medix Publishers Amsterdam, 2012)8
      • 1% of Internet users had severe problems with sex on the Internet.
    • 22% of men with hypersexual disorder also have cybersexual dependence. (CNS Spectrums, 2009)11

  • Pornography Addiction
    • 63% of sex addicts were diagnosed with pornography addiction in one study. (Medix Publishers Amsterdam, 2012)8
    • 13% of men with hypersexual disorder were positive to have a pornography addiction in another study. (CNS Spectrums, 2009)11
      • Pornography addiction is defined as excessive or compulsive use of pornography that resulted in distress or dysfunction.
    • 40.2% were reported to have a pornography addiction in another study. (Medix Publishers Amsterdam, 2012)8
    • 51% of hypersexual patients reported that they have a pornography addiction. (Sexual and Relationship Therapy, 2009)9

Interested to know how many people watch porn? Head over to our research study here.


Where Did Their Sex Addiction Originate?

How do people become addicted to sex? Here’s what studies have shown:

  • 87% of sex addicts came from dysfunctional families where at least one family member had a history of addiction. (Journal of Addiction Research & Therapy, 2018)3
  • 36% of current sex addicts reported that at least one parent was a sex addict. (Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity, 1996)12
    • Parents with sexual addiction may contribute to their sexual addiction as well.
  • 81% of sex addicts were abused sexually, 97% abused emotionally, and 72% physically. (Journal of Addiction Research & Therapy, 2018)3

Risks and Consequences of Sex Addiction

Sex addiction can lead to risky behavior, decisions people wouldn’t make otherwise, and other problems with addiction. It can also lead to significant emotional trauma and repercussions in the workplace, with partners, and more. Here’s what studies show:

  • Problems that began after diagnosis of sexual addiction/co-addiction: (Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity, 1996)12
    • Problems originating primarily with the addict:
      • Feelings of guilt and shame.
      • Loss of libido and erectile dysfunction.
      • Unrealistic expectations about the sexual relationship.
      • Confusion about sexual orientation.
    • Problems originating primarily with the co-addict
      • Anger, betrayal, loss of trust.
      • Disclosure of the coaddict’s underlying problems (e.g., unresolved incest issues) when the addict’s behavior changes.
      • Fear of sexually transmitted diseases and a negative reaction to the need to use a condom.
    • Problems originating with the dyad
      • New fears and excessive analysis about healthy vs. addictive sexuality.
      • Decreased intensity of the sexual experience.
      • Change in the balance of power in the relationship.

  • Consequences associated among patients with a hypersexual behavior diagnosis: (The Journal of Sexual Medicine, 2012)6
    • Caused job loss:
      • Has happened once or twice: 15.7%
      • Has happened several times: 1.6%
    • Ended a romantic relationship:
      • Has happened once or twice: 22.8%
      • Has happened several times: 16.5%
    • Contracted a sexually transmitted infection:
      • Has happened once or twice: 22.0%
      • Has happened several times: 5.5%
    • Caused legal problems
      • Has happened once or twice: 16.5%
      • Has happened several times: 0.8%
    • Experienced unwanted financial losses:
      • Has happened once or twice: 23.6%
      • Has happened several times: 29.1%
    • Emotionally hurt a loved one:
      • Has happened once or twice: 22.0%
      • Has happened several times: 67.7%
    • Interfered with the ability to experience healthy sex:
      • Has happened once or twice: 11.0%
      • Has happened several times: 66.9%
    • Negatively affected mental health:
      • Has happened once or twice: 20.5%
      • Has happened several times: 73.2%
  • 27.5% of sex addicts contracted an STI on at least one occasion as a result of hypersexual behavior. (The Journal of Sexual Medicine, 2012)6

  • How often people have had sex where it has had a negative impact on private relationships, economy, health, or job, studies during the past year: (Frontiers in Psychology, 2018)10
    • Male
      • Very rarely: 87.1%
      • Rarely: 7.8%
      • Sometimes: 3.3%
      • Often: 1.0%
      • Very often: 0.9%
    • Female
      • Very rarely: 96.3%
      • Rarely: 2.5%
      • Sometimes: 0.8%
      • Often: 0.3%
      • Very often: 0.1%
    • Total
      • Very rarely: 93.0%
      • Rarely: 4.4%
      • Sometimes: 1.7%
      • Often: 0.5%
      • Very often: 0.4%

  • 89% of sex addicts said they had engaged in sexual activities with people outside the marriage or primary relationship. (Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity: The Journal of Treatment and Prevention, 1998)7
  • 21% of hypersexual patients reported having extra-marital affairs. (Sexual and Relationship Therapy, 2009)9
  • 12% of hypersexual patients have excessive unprotected sex with multiple anonymous partners. (Sexual and Relationship Therapy, 2009)9
  • 11% of sex addicts whose sexual activities had not involved contact with other people had engaged in voyeurism or exhibitionism. (Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity: The Journal of Treatment and Prevention, 1998)7

How Many People Have Sought Treatment For Their Sex Addiction?

Sex addiction can cause all sorts of problems in the lives of the addicts, and there are treatments available for those who want them. Many seek out these treatments at some point in their lives, according to this data:

  • How often people have tried to cut down on sex/masturbation without success during the past year: (Frontiers in Psychology, 2018)10
    • Male
      • Very rarely: 67.0%
      • Rarely: 16.3%
      • Sometimes: 10.6%
      • Often: 4.2%
      • Very often: 1.9%
    • Female
      • Very rarely: 92.2%
      • Rarely: 5.3%
      • Sometimes: 1.6%
      • Often: 0.6%
      • Very often: 0.3%
    • Total
      • Very rarely: 83.4%
      • Rarely: 9.2%
      • Sometimes: 4.7%
      • Often: 1.8%
      • Very often: 0.9%

  • 79% of married people were attending meetings for sex addicts. (Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity, 1996)12
  • 9% of sex addicts had been through an inpatient program for sexual addiction. (Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity, 1996)12
  • 79% of the partners of sex addicts had attended a 12-step program. (Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity: The Journal of Treatment and Prevention, 1998)7
  • 91% of sex addicts and their partners had seen or were seeing a professional counselor or therapist. (Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity: The Journal of Treatment and Prevention, 1998)7
    • 59% of the addicts and co-addicts had seen more than one type of professional.
    • Almost all of the sex addicts and co-addicts studied had received both professional and peer support in their recovery process.
  • The average time in recovery from sex addiction was 3.4 years, ranging from 2 months to 14 years. (Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity: The Journal of Treatment and Prevention, 1998)7

  • Sex addicts on their recovery time from sex addiction: (Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity: The Journal of Treatment and Prevention, 1998)7
    • 38% had less than 2 years in recovery;
    • 28% had at least 2 but less than 5 years;
    • 34% had at least 5 years of recovery.
  • 79% of sex addicts identified themselves as “in recovery” or attending some 12-step program. (Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity: The Journal of Treatment and Prevention, 1998)7
  • 17% said they were not in recovery. (Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity: The Journal of Treatment and Prevention, 1998)7
  • Of 61 “co-addicts” who specified their time in recovery in a 12-step program: (Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity: The Journal of Treatment and Prevention, 1998)7
    • 25% had less than 2 years in recovery.
    • 34% had 2-5 years of recovery.
    • 41% had at least 5 years of recovery.
  • 14 partners of sex addicts (sex co-addicts) said they were “not in recovery.” These partners did not attend any 12-step program to try to heal from the consequences of their partners’ addictive sexual disorder. (Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity: The Journal of Treatment and Prevention, 1998)7

Most Helpful Recovery Tools for Sex Addicts and Co-Addicts

Since most sex addicts seek recovery at some point, they know what works best. Here’s the data behind the most effective ways to recover from sex addiction:

  • Most Helpful Recovery Tools for Sex Addicts according to sex addicts: (Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity: The Journal of Treatment and Prevention, 1998)7
    • 49%: Therapy/counseling.
    • 40%: 12-step meetings/groups.
    • 38%: Spirituality/religion.
    • 33%: “The 12-step program”.
    • 31%: Relationship with partner.
    • 29%: 12-step sponsor.
    • 28%: Friends/recovery friends.

  • Most Helpful Recovery Tools for Partners of Sex Addicts (sex co-addicts) according to partners of sex addicts: (Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity: The Journal of Treatment and Prevention, 1998)7
    • 58%: Therapy/counseling.
    • 50%: 12-step meetings/groups.
    • 47%: Spirituality/religion.
    • 41%: Friends/recovery friends.
    • 36%: Books/tapes.
    • 30%: “The Program.”
    • 28%: Relationship with a partner.

How Many People Have Relapsed In Recovering From Sex Addiction?

Like most addictions, sex addicts can relapse into old behaviors even after a lengthy recovery period. Many people who are in recovery from sex addiction report relapsing at some point on their journey: 

  • Recovering sex addicts and their partners will face multiple disclosure decisions and consequences over the course of their relationship. (Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity: The Journal of Treatment and Prevention, 1998)7
  • 51% of sex addicts said they had relapsed when asked, “Have you had a significant slip or a relapse?” (41 out of 80 responded affirmatively). (Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity: The Journal of Treatment and Prevention, 1998)7
  • Addicts in recovery for more than two years were twice as likely as addicts in short-term recovery to have experienced a relapse. (Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity: The Journal of Treatment and Prevention, 1998)7
  • 64% of sex addicts with at least 5 years in recovery reported having had a significant slip or relapse, in many cases well after the first year or two. (Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity: The Journal of Treatment and Prevention, 1998)7
  •  61% of sex addicts with 2 to 5 years in recovery reported relapse. (Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity: The Journal of Treatment and Prevention, 1998)7
  • 31% of sex addicts with less than 2 years of recovery reported significant slip or relapse. (Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity: The Journal of Treatment and Prevention, 1998)7

  • How many sex addicts had relapses by time in recovery: (Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity: The Journal of Treatment and Prevention, 1998)7
    • Less than 2 years of recovery
      • Yes: 9 sex addicts
      • No: 20 sex addicts
      • Total: 29 sex addicts
    • 2 years to 5 years of recovery
      • Yes: 14 sex addicts
      • No: 9 sex addicts
      • Total: 23 sex addicts
    • More than 5 years of recovery
      • Yes: 18 sex addicts
      • No: 10 sex addicts
      • Total: 28 sex addicts
  • 43% of partners threatened to leave after learning of a relapse. (Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity: The Journal of Treatment and Prevention, 1998)7
    • When a relapse occurred, threats to leave were common.

Conclusion

Sex addiction can be a painful, distressing experience for the addict and their partners. It coincides with more risky behaviors, an increased risk of STIs, and other addictions. Sex addicts generally want to recover but struggle to do so with significant relapse rates. Shedding light on this data can help addicts, and their partners, understand their challenges more thoroughly.

For more interesting sex studies and statistics, consider checking out our guide here.

Footnotes

  1. Cleveland Clinic, 2022. An article on sexual addiction.
  2. Current Pharmaceutical Design, 2014. A study of 22 questionnaires for assessing symptoms of sexual addiction.
  3. Journal of Addiction Research & Therapy, 2018. A study on sex and sexual addiction in the United States of America.
  4. JAMA Network Open, 2018. A study of 2325 American adults.
  5. Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment, 2020. A study of 58 articles on CSBD.
  6. The Journal of Sexual Medicine, 2012. A study of 207 American patients.
  7. Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity: The Journal of Treatment and Prevention, 1998. A study of 164 American and Canadian recovering sex addicts and their partners.
  8. Medix Publishers Amsterdam, 2012. A study on sexual addiction: theories, causes, and therapy.
  9. Sexual and Relationship Therapy, 2009. A study of 114 hypersexual and non-hypersexual individuals.
  10. Frontiers in Psychology, 2018. A study of 23,533 Norwegian adults aged 16-88 years.
  11. CNS Spectrums, 2009. A study of 60 American males.
  12. Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity, 1996. A study of 142 persons representing 88 marriages from the United States of America.
Dainis Graveris

Dainis Graveris

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