Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) causes a range of symptoms, including hyperactivity, difficulty paying attention, and behavioral problems. ADHD may also affect romantic relationships, feelings of self-worth, or even the ability to perform sexually.
These markers are not used to make a diagnosis, and they may be due to the disorder itself or develop as a side effect of medicines used for treatment.
Though ADHD is frequently diagnosed in childhood, it affects the lives of many adults. Some adults with ADHD report experiencing changes in their sex life.
Nailing down symptoms is difficult because these changes can affect everyone differently:
Some people with ADHD report changes in their sex drive.
Some experience hyposexuality or the loss of the desire for sex.
A person experiencing hyposexuality may have no interest in sexual activity whatsoever.
They may find sex challenging to focus on, lose interest in the middle of sexual activity, or become easily distracted.
Hyposexuality might be symptomatic of ADHD in some cases, but it is also a possible side effect of some ADHD medications or antidepressants that are often used to treat ADHD symptoms.
Inability to orgasm
Many people with ADHD experience other issues apart from their sex drive. Some people may have a healthy sex drive but have difficulties reaching orgasm, even after prolonged stimulation. This may be due to boredom, problems staying focused, or other feelings. In some cases, an inability to orgasm is a side effect of medications.
Many people with ADHD experience a physical hypersensitivity to a variety of things, including touch.
Being hypersensitive may mean that stimulation of their genitals might be uncomfortable or even painful in someone with ADHD. This sensitivity may also extend to other senses as well.
Smells or tastes associated with sex may reduce arousal or make it difficult for a person to focus on the act itself, which may lead to difficulties in staying aroused.
Hyperactivity, which is a symptom closely associated with ADHD, might also affect a person's sex life. People with ADHD may find it difficult to relax or unwind, which could make it hard for them to become aroused. They may also feel the need to switch positions frequently or may be unable to stay focused long enough to have sex.
Adults with ADHD may also present with a range of other symptoms that may include emotional instability or symptoms of anxiety and depression. Symptoms such as these can be extremely challenging on a day-to-day basis and may also affect a person's sex life.
These emotional issues might put stress on a romantic relationship, making a difficult situation even more difficult than before.
These feelings of anxiety and instability may also affect a person with ADHD who is not in a romantic relationship. These emotions might lead to reluctance in seeking healthful relationships with other people or worry surrounding their individual sexuality.
There are many techniques and coping strategies that people with ADHD can learn to improve their sexual relationships with other people:
Communication is vital. Discussing any sexual issues with a partner may help them better understand how they can help.
It may also ease any uncertainty they might have about the situation. A person with ADHD may find communication difficult at first.
However, openly expressing individual needs or talking about trouble areas with intimacy may put both people's minds at ease and help them to relax and enjoy sex more.
Romance and sexuality can involve the use of many senses, such as smell and touch. However, these sensations may not be suitable for people with ADHD who are hypersensitive. For example, scented candles, incense, or massage oils may be too distracting for some people, while others might be sensitive to light or sounds.
When a person identifies what does and does not work for them, they should let their partner know, which should help create a welcoming sexual atmosphere.
While some people find mood music or background noise calming, someone with ADHD might find it distracting.
Turning off the television, radio, or computer during sex may help avoid these distractions. However, distractions can range from the sound of a fan in the room to the sight of an unfinished project on the table. These distractions may be enough to reduce arousal in some people.
Again, communication is essential. When people know what distraction to avoid, they may find their romantic moments are more present and focused.
For people who appear to be losing interest in sex, making changes in their sexual play, techniques, or even locations may provide enough stimuli to improve arousal and increase their sexual satisfaction.
Always communicate this to the sexual partner, but changing the sexual routine may be the way forward for some people.
Focus on being present
Making an effort to stay focused on what is happening in the moment may help keep a person's mind from straying.
Learning to focus takes practice, and mindfulness activities, such as meditation, breathing exercises, or yoga, may be a good place to start.
Doing these activities with a partner before sex may help calm both people down, allowing them to enter a more relaxed state.
Sometimes, problems with sex may be overcome by setting a schedule and sticking to it. Scheduling sex may sound unromantic, but it may put some people's mind at ease. Knowing that they have a specific time to focus on sex may help ease a person's anxiety or help them prepare for it.
Some of the symptoms of ADHD may create difficulties in a person's sex life and romantic relationships. The key to changing these symptoms may vary from person-to-person, but patience and communication between partners are crucial.
In many cases, a sex therapist or relationship counselor with experience helping people with ADHD may provide guidance and help people with ADHD find happiness and expression in their sexual relationships.