Some people with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) may experience hypersexuality or hyposexuality, or have unsatisfactory sex lives.
ADHD is a neurodevelopmental condition. People are born with it and have it throughout their lives. It cannot be cured, but it can be managed.
ADHD can have significant effects on adult life. For example, a person with ADHD may have a poor self-image and difficulty maintaining a stable relationship or job.
The effects on sexuality due to ADHD can be hard to measure. This is because sexual symptoms may be different in each person.
Some sexual symptoms can lead to sexual dysfunction. This can cause significant stress in a relationship. Understanding how ADHD affects sexuality can help a couple cope with relationship stress.
Sexual symptoms are not part of the diagnostic criteria for ADHD in the
However, the following common ADHD symptoms can have a negative impact on your sex drive:
During sexual activities, a person with ADHD may:
- have difficulty keeping attention
- be easily distracted
- not seem to listen to their partner or follow through on their requests
- lose items, like condoms or lubricants
It can be exhausting for someone with ADHD to constantly maintain order and organization. They may not have the energy or desire to engage in sexual activities.
This could be due to symptoms such as distraction and the inability to focus on their bodies during sexual activities.
Males with ADHD reported similar sexual desire as males without ADHD but lower orgasms, erectile function, and overall sexual satisfaction.
People with ADHD may be hypersensitive. This means a sexual activity that feels good to a partner without ADHD can be irritating or uncomfortable for the person with ADHD.
Smells, touches, and tastes that often accompany intercourse may be repulsive or annoying to someone with ADHD.
Hyperactivity is another obstacle to achieving intimacy for someone with ADHD. It may be very difficult for a partner with ADHD to relax enough to get in the mood for sex.
Two reported sexual symptoms of ADHD are hypersexuality and hyposexuality. If a person with ADHD experiences sexual symptoms, their condition may fall into one of these two categories.
It is important to keep in mind that hypersexuality is not part of the DSM-5-TR diagnostic criteria for ADHD. However, although more research is needed, some
Sexual stimulation releases endorphins and mobilizes the brain’s neurotransmitters. This gives a feeling of calmness that reduces the restlessness ADHD often causes.
Some people with ADHD may engage in risky sexual practices due to issues with impulsivity. People with ADHD may also have an increased risk of substance misuse, which may further impair decision making and result in sexual risk-taking.
A 2019 study suggests that while ADHD may affect the severity of hypersexuality regardless of someone’s sex, the symptoms may affect problematic pornography use more strongly for males than females.
Hyposexuality is the opposite of hypersexuality: A person’s sex drive is unusually low, and they often lose all interest in sexual activity.
This can arise from ADHD itself. It can also be a side effect of medication, particularly antidepressants, which doctors often prescribe for people with ADHD.
Sex is no different from other activities that present a challenge for someone with ADHD. A person can have trouble concentrating during sex, lose interest in what they’re doing, or become distracted.
The following are some ways people with ADHD can manage and overcome sexual challenges.
Knowledge is power
The more you understand about ADHD and how its symptoms affect you or your partner’s sex life, the easier it can be to figure out how to have a satisfying sexual relationship.
Communicate and compromise
Discuss how your ADHD may affect intimacy and your sexual expression. If your partner has ADHD, consider their needs alongside your own. For example, you can turn off bright lights and not use strongly scented lotions or perfumes if your partner is sensitive to light and fragrances.
Work on being in the moment. Get rid of distractions and try doing calming exercises together, such as yoga or meditation.
Make dates for sex and commit to them. Making sex a priority can help ensure it does not get sidetracked.
Mix it up
Once you have a good understanding of your or your partner’s ADHD, you can begin to incorporate new things into your sex life if you both choose. For example, you can try new positions, toys, locations, and techniques.
Although sexual symptoms are not diagnostic criteria for ADHD, symptoms such as mood changes and anxiety may lead to sexuality issues for some people with this condition.
Clear communication and prioritizing sex are just some ways people with ADHD can manage these challenges. A sex therapist or couples counseling can help you improve sexual satisfaction too.