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what is it, how to identify and treat the disorder

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By Vanessa Fenelon

On 06.26.21

The term nymphomania is popularly used to refer to women with high sexual desire or who perform sexually in excess. Currently, however, the most appropriate nomenclature is Compulsive Sexual Behavior Disorder. To learn more about symptoms and treatment, follow the information provided by psychologist and sex therapist Gabriela Vitor (CRP 01/18018):

What is nymphomania?

Gabriela explains that the expression nymphomania is used to “classify women who have a high sexual desire” or, even, to refer to the excessive performance of the sexual act. “We also have the term satyriasis, in the case of men who exhibit the same compulsive behavior. But nymphomania has always stood out, mainly because it is women who had a high sexual desire and sexual behavior outside of social standards”, she comments.

For the psychologist, it is necessary to avoid “the banalization of this term as a form of repression and judgment of female sexuality”. Likewise, it is also necessary to avoid the opposite movement: “the romanticization of female sexualization”.

Nymphomania or Compulsive Sexual Behavior Disorder?

According to Gabriela, the terms nymphomania and satyriasis are no longer used. The sex therapist explains: “in 2018, the World Health Organization (WHO) made changes to the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-10) regarding Nymphomania and, today, the nomenclature used is Compulsive Sexual Behavior Disorder (TCSC ), taking the focus away from just one genre”.

With this change, nymphomania came to be considered a mental disorder, in the category “impulse control disorders”, which encompasses all dysfunctional sexual behaviors. The psychologist emphasizes that one of these behaviors is hypersexuality, “which is characterized by excessive sexual desire and activity, causing damage to the healthy functioning of the individual.”

nymphomania symptoms

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As for the symptoms of nymphomania, the sex therapist comments that they are related “to a difficulty in controlling intense and recurrent sexual impulses and behaviors, which leads the person to practice the sexual act compulsively”. See below for more details about the signs of this disorder:

  • Lack of control over impulses: nymphomania is characterized by impulsive and dysfunctional behavior. Gabriela explains: “It may be that, for you, masturbating once a day or having sex every day are already symptoms of a Compulsive Sexual Behavior Disorder (SCD), but for someone else, this is not enough, and not necessarily there is a problem in both situations”.
  • Compulsive practice of the sexual act: the therapist comments that when it comes to sexual intercourse, compulsion leads to “a constant, repetitive and dysfunctional frequency of sexual behaviors, thoughts, and impulses.”
  • Intense and recurrent sexual behaviors: the psychologist clarifies that “thinking about sex a lot, having sex with a lot of frequency and with several people or masturbating frequently are not conclusive signs for you to self-diagnose yourself as someone who presents compulsive sexual behaviors”. The assessment of a psychiatrist or psychologist is critical. For Gabriela, “sex is not just the sexual act, but also her entire social construction on the subject”.
  • Damage and suffering: Gabriela explains that the difficulty of controlling sexual impulses “generates damage and suffering in various sectors of the individual’s life, such as in their interpersonal relationships, at work and even in their personal growth”.
  • Quick Pleasure Search: for the psychologist, the compulsive behaviors that characterize the disorder “are consequences of a quick search for pleasure and relief, but they cause damage to the mental and physical health of individuals”.

Finally, the therapist warns: “each person is particular, so avoid comparisons!”. So it can be healthy not to have sex every day, “because sex is also a mental process, but it’s also healthy to do it every day, masturbate or spend a lot of time thinking about sex,” he explains. The psychologist also recalls that “women are sexual too, but they don’t need to be constantly willing”.

How to treat nymphomania

Gabriela advises that the main treatment is Psychotherapy, with a Psychology professional who specializes in Sexual Therapy. The goal is “to help control compulsive behaviors and identify triggers that generate anxiety”, in addition to “understand the entire social and biological context, the individual’s experiences and their individual construction about sex and sexuality, because each one of us is the result of a set of factors”, he comments.

The psychologist highlights that sex therapy is very important in this process. According to her, “there are specific techniques, in addition to being an approach that will present solutions based on the study of sexuality and the sexual act.”

In some cases, as explained by the sex therapist, the intervention of a psychiatrist is necessary to optimize the treatment. And he ends with a piece of advice: “There are many ways to feel pleasure in life. Seek to know yourself and discover healthy ways to reach pleasure!”

Questions cleared up? Now, you know that the best term for nymphomania is Compulsive Sexual Behavior Disorder. Take the opportunity to see how sex therapy works and understand when you should seek professional help.


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