OCD can manifest in many ways, including in a sexual manner. Sexual urges, behavior, or impulses may feel intrusive to the point of causing distress, known as hypersexuality or compulsive sexual behavior disorder (CSBD).

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a mental health condition in which people may have intrusive, recurring thoughts and repetitive behaviors. It may involve intrusive sexual thoughts that can be distressing, contrary to what the person may want, and obsessive worries and fears about such thoughts.

Treatment measures can help a person experiencing OCD to better manage their symptoms.

Hypersexuality is a separate condition. It is less about seeking sex as a source of pleasure and more about having issues with impulse control.

A 2019 study found that rates of hypersexuality are similar in those with OCD as the general population. There is not a proven link between the two.

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, 5th edition, text revision (DSM-5-TR), the American Psychiatric Association does not recognize hypersexuality as an official disorder, but it does recognize how obsessions and compulsions related to OCD can be of a sexual nature.

However, some other groups, such as the World Health Organization (WHO), do recognize hypersexuality as a disorder.

This article will explain OCD and hypersexuality. It will also explain the treatment and causes of OCD and how to manage symptoms of OCD and hypersexuality.

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OCD describes a chronic, long lasting disorder in which a person may experience intrusive, reoccurring obsessive thoughts or compulsive behaviors with the urge to repeat them.

When these obsessions and compulsions are sexual in nature, OCD may look similar to hypersexuality. Hypersexuality is a separate condition in which a person has strong, intrusive sexual urges. They may be so severe that they cause a person to neglect or disregard other areas of their life, such as relationships or work.

It is important to note that because OCD causes intrusive thoughts, which may be of a sexual nature, a person may experience these as a symptom of OCD rather than the separate condition of hypersexuality. A person with OCD is no more likely than a member of the general population to have hypersexuality.

With OCD, obsessions or compulsions may present in various ways, including:

  • difficulty in controlling unwelcome thoughts or ideas
  • pervasive anxiousness about a person’s obsessive thoughts
  • repetition of certain behaviors or activities to ease the mental discomfort

Additionally, with OCD, compulsive thoughts or behaviors may be heightened by a fear that not acting upon them may result in some harm.

When OCD thoughts are of a sexual nature, some people find it can result in feelings of guilt and shame, and they may fear it could cause issues with their partners.

These compulsions and behaviors may not actually be sexually gratifying but result from underlying anxiety and worries.

Hypersexuality is different from this. It may cause sexual thoughts or desires that directly lead to sexual behavior. OCD may involve a person experiencing unwanted sexual thoughts, but engaging in compulsive behavior to make them go away.

Read more about OCD and hypersexuality.

Those with both OCD and hypersexuality may experience obsessions or compulsions relating to sex. The DSM-5-TR states that there are two specific criteria for OCD:

  • Obsessions: These are unwanted thoughts and images that cause mental discomfort.
  • Compulsions: These are repeated activities that attempt to relieve anxiety.

For a doctor or psychiatrist to diagnose OCD, a person must have either or both simultaneously, causing significant distress and lasting around or up to 1 hour per day.

Hypersexuality is difficult to distinguish because many practitioners have opposing views on it. Further, hypersexuality is not classified in the DSM-5-TR.

Some experts refer to a sense of hypersexuality as compulsive sexual behavior disorder (CSBD). Symptoms of CSBD may include:

  • repetitive thoughts about sexual fantasies
  • intense sexual urges
  • sexual behavior that causes impairment in daily life, such as needing to masturbate excessively
  • urges to engage in inappropriate behavior
  • symptoms occurring that are not due to taking drugs or substances
  • the urge to engage in sexual fantasies or behavior in response to moods such as depression, anxiety, or boredom
  • the urge to engage in sexual fantasies or behavior in response to distressing situations
  • repetitive attempts to control or decrease sexual obsessions or compulsions
  • fear of relationship issues arising due to hypersexual obsessions or compulsions

It is important to remember that the symptoms of OCD and hypersexuality may seem similar, but they are distinct.

The main difference between hypersexuality versus having a high libido is whether it severely affects a person’s daily life, work, relationships, or overall mental health.

Enjoying sex and sexual relationships is a healthy part of life. Still, if sexual obsessions or behaviors become intrusive, distressing or threaten to harm aspects of a person’s life, it may be a cause for concern.

OCD is a common disorder that may arise from several potential causes. Some risk factors may include:

Hypersexual behavior may result from traumatic or emotional situations or triggers. The condition may progress over time. The brain may associate impulsive behaviors or obsessions with receiving pleasurable neurochemical changes in the brain, becoming addicted to the “high.”

If hypersexuality occurs alongside OCD, the obsessions and compulsions may be highly distressing, particularly if they are at odds with what the person wants to do.

An example of this could include a person feeling a sexual urge or having sexual fantasies about another person while in a committed, monogamous relationship with someone else.

Some risk factors for hypersexual behavior include:

  • bipolar disorder
  • a history of substance misuse
  • an injury to the frontal lobe of the brain
  • medication use
  • another addiction, such as compulsive gambling or alcohol dependency
  • an eating disorder

Treatment for OCD is therapy or medication, or both. There is currently no one treatment for hypersexuality, but some treatments may include a combination of therapy, medication, and support communities.


Treatments for OCD may include:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy: This therapy focuses on how a person’s thoughts may influence and alter their actions, as well as their beliefs, attitudes, and behavior.
  • Cognitive therapy: This therapy focuses on identifying negative thoughts about oneself as a way of disrupting certain behavior patterns.
  • Exposure and response prevention (ERP): This type of therapy encourages a person to confront and acknowledge obsessive thoughts while resisting the urge to carry out compulsive actions and behaviors.
  • Psychodynamic psychotherapy: This therapy can help a person identify subconscious thoughts and work toward changing their behavior.
  • Meditation: This can help focus and calm the mind through breathwork and mindfulness.

Read more about meditation and other ways to cope with OCD here.


A doctor or a psychiatrist may recommend medications that help with symptoms, such as:

  • antidepressants, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)
  • mood stabilizers
  • hormone therapies

Antidepressants can take around 8–12 weeks to start working.

As sexual intrusive thoughts can be a symptom of OCD, a doctor may look to diagnose OCD first. A person who thinks they may have OCD may also want to consult a psychiatrist to discuss obsessive, intrusive thoughts and compulsive behaviors.

Doctors look for certain criteria, such as:

  • having obsessions, compulsions, or both at the same time
  • obsessions and compulsions that cause significant distress or impairment in social, work, or other life settings
  • OCD symptoms that do not result from the use of medications or substances
  • OCD symptoms that are not the result of other medical issues
  • obsessions and compulsions that are unreasonable or excessive

For hypersexuality, criteria may include:

  • a consistent pattern of sexual urges or behavior, not resulting from another source (e.g., a manic episode or substance effects)
  • repetitive sexual impulses that result in repetitive sexual actions
  • sexual activities being the focus of a person’s life, in detriment to other focuses, such as work, relationships, responsibilities, or personal care
  • repetitive sexual behavior that offers no real sexual pleasure
  • repetitive sexual behavior despite severe consequences
  • symptoms lasting 6 months or more

With the right treatment, a person can overcome hypersexuality or OCD and manage the symptoms.

Many people delay seeking help for OCD, but a person does not need to wait until the symptoms are severe before getting support. Treatment can help people with OCD lead fulfilling lives with less anxiety.

Communities and support groups can help with managing symptoms of OCD and hypersexuality. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) offers a treatment locator where users can find treatment and support groups in their area.

The International OCD Foundation also offers support for people and families affected by OCD.

Talking about OCD and hypersexuality can help people overcome feelings they may have associated with the condition, such as guilt and shame.

The symptoms of OCD can seem similar to those of hypersexuality, but they are separate conditions.

Hypersexuality involves recurring thoughts about sex or intense sexual urges, along with repetitive behaviors. People may be find it difficult to control these behaviors, and they may cause significant impairment in daily life. Some experts refer to hypersexuality as compulsive sexual behavior disorder (CSBD).

This is different to intrusive thoughts of a sexual nature in OCD. These thoughts may cause anxiety, and may contradict what the person wants.

Treatment for OCD includes therapy such as CBT, which can help a person acknowledge the obsessions and compulsions without engaging, and medications such as antidepressants.