Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) can cause many symptoms that can negatively affect a person’s sex life and drive.
Types of ADHD include primarily inattentive, primarily hyperactive, and a combined type with different symptoms associated with each type.
While much research on ADHD exists, few studies have looked at its effect on a person’s sexual health or impact on relationships. Doctors are aware that ADHD can have a negative effect on someone’s overall sexual health, which can impact their romantic relationships.
Despite a large collection of scientific studies, very few deal with the effects that ADHD has on love and sexual health. The findings of some that do exist found mainly negative effects on relationships, including:
- reduced reported quality of romantic relationships
- higher use of maladaptive coping strategies
- less satisfaction in romantic relationships
In terms of sexual relations, recorded studies have generally shown:
- teens with ADHD have nearly double the number of sexual partners
- people with ADHD become sexually active at a younger age
- people with ADHD become a parent at a younger age than is typical
- people with ADHD have increased casual sexual encounters
Studies have also shown that adults with ADHD reported issues, including:
- higher divorce rates
- trouble providing emotional support to partners
- reduced stability in their relationships
- more sexual dysfunction
A recent review of studies from
- more sexual desire
- less sexual satisfaction
- increased frequency of masturbation
- increased sexual dysfunction
The researchers noted that more research is necessary in the area of ADHD and its effects on sexual relationships and health.
A person living with ADHD may experience more issues with their sex life. However, they may find that taking some steps can help improve their intimacy with their partner or partners and improve their overall sex life.
While they may not help everyone, the following are a few tips to help someone with ADHD find more satisfaction in their sexual relationship.
Foreplay is any action or steps to help improve a person’s readiness for sexual intercourse. It can include things such as kissing, a sensual massage, or other activities that help someone get into the mood for sex.
Taking the time to engage in foreplay can benefit anyone with performance pressure, which can affect someone with ADHD. It can also improve overall intimacy among partners.
Have a conversation about symptoms
A person living with ADHD may find it helpful to talk with their partner or partners about how and if their symptoms appear during sex. A conversation could help in understanding between partners, facilitate a closer bond, and improve sexual encounters.
Remove or reduce distractions
A person with ADHD may find that their mind wanders off during sexual encounters. Distractions in the room or area may increase the risk that they will find their mind wandering. Removing distractions from the room may help allow the person to focus during sex.
ADHD can affect other aspects of a marriage or romantic relationship besides sex. It can lead to divorce or breakups, often due to the non-ADHD partner deciding they can no longer deal with some of the behaviors of their partner. Some of these behaviors can include:
- persistent distractibility
- impulsive speech
- impulsive behaviors
- mental and physical restlessness
While being married or in a serious relationship with a person with ADHD can be challenging, partners can take steps to help improve the relationship and prevent divorce or separation.
Some tips to improve a marriage or relationship include:
- Managing expectations of a partner’s responses: A partner will often need to repeatedly ask for the same things and should continue to do so without expecting their partner or partners to change their behavior.
- Take time for self-care.
- Create healthy boundaries in the relationship.
- Examine roles and responsibilities: This can mean determining who is best at certain household chores and dividing them according to what is necessary and who does them best.
Sexual health and problems can be a sensitive topic for people to discuss, but it is often an important conversation a person can have with their therapist or doctor. They may recommend seeking couples’ counseling or offer advice and help directly.
A sex therapist could help people improve their sexual experiences and intimacy. However, not all will have experience dealing with some living with ADHD.
When looking for a sexual therapist, a person may want to ask about their experience with clients living with ADHD. If they do not have any experience, an individual can ask them for recommendations of therapists who do have expertise in this field.
A couple may also find that couples’ counseling or therapy may also help. A person’s treatment team may be able to help a person find counselors in their area.
A person with ADHD may find that their sex life is negatively affected. This can lead to issues with romantic relationships and trouble in marriage.
While research studies are generally lacking, individuals can take steps to cope with some of the sexual side effects that ADHD or ADHD medications may cause.
Often, these steps involve having a conversation with partners, reducing distractions, and increasing foreplay.