How Might OCD Impact a Person's Sex Life?

How Might OCD Impact a Person's Sex Life?

Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is a chronic mental health condition that involves recurring unwanted thoughts or impulses (known as obsessions) that lead to repetitive behaviors (compulsions). These obsessions and compulsions can interfere with a person’s day-to-day life and may cause relationship problems, occupational issues, and significant emotional distress.

Often, a person’s obsessions fall into themes such as needing cleanliness and order, fearing contamination, or having difficulties dealing with uncertainty. Accordingly, their compulsions may fall into themes such as washing, cleaning, organizing, counting, or checking things repeatedly.

A person’s sex life may not be immune to the effects of OCD, and past research has shown an association between OCD and sexual dysfunction. People with OCD may be at higher risk of low sex drive, worse sexual functioning, lower sexual satisfaction, disgust with sexual activities, or fear and/or avoidance of sex.

Additionally, some medications for OCD such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) can negatively impact sexual functioning. These medications may delay ejaculation and female orgasm, contribute to decreased libido, and cause erectile difficulties.

Some individuals with OCD who have contamination-related obsessions may avoid sex for fear of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), coming into contact with bodily fluids, or experiencing moral or religious “contamination.” For other OCD patients, it may be difficult to concentrate during sexual activity as a result of intrusive, repetitive thoughts and fixations.

A subtype of OCD known as relationship OCD may further interfere with a person’s intimate connections. As the name suggests, people with relationship OCD experience obsessions and compulsions related to their relationships. This may involve constant fears or doubts about the relationship, concerns about whether a person’s partner is “right” for them, and/or insecurities about one’s own attractiveness, sexual desirability, and worthiness in a romantic relationship.

While these circumstances may be challenging for patients with OCD and their romantic partners, there are ways to lessen the effects of OCD on sexual function. Cognitive behavioral therapy for OCD consists of exposing a person to objects or situations that would generally trigger their obsessions and compulsions, then helping them manage their distress so that they are able to cope with it better over time.

Prior research has suggested that including partners in therapy that targets both OCD and non-OCD related couple problems can reduce symptoms and improve the couple’s sexual and relationship outcomes. If you or your partner are struggling with OCD and it is affecting your sex life, consider involving a sex therapist with experience in this area to help you work toward greater sexual satisfaction.

For more information on this topic, please read these publications from the ISSM Journals: The Journal of Sexual Medicine, Sexual Medicine Reviews, and Sexual Medicine Open Access:


References:

Pozza, A., Veale, D., Marazziti, D., Delgadillo, J., Albert, U., Grassi, G., Prestia, D., & Dèttore, D. (2020). Sexual dysfunction and satisfaction in obsessive compulsive disorder: protocol for a systematic review and meta-analysis. Systematic Reviews9, 1-13. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1186/s13643-019-1262-7

Other Popular Articles

What Is Jelqing, and Does It Actually Work?

The term “jelqing” refers to a set of penis stretching exercises that some believe can make the penis bigger. Although the practice has gained attention and popularity in blogs and internet forums in recent years, there is no scientific evidence that it is an effective way to permanently increase the size of one’s penis. In fact, in some cases, jelqing may actually cause damage to the penis, so it is a good idea to get all the facts before setting off to try it.

What Is Sensate Focus and How Does It Work?

Sensate focus is a technique used to improve intimacy and communication between partners around sex, reduce sexual performance anxiety, and shift away from ingrained, goal-oriented sexual patterns that may not be serving a couple.

What Is the Average Penis Size?

If you have ever wondered how your penis compares to others in terms of size, you are not alone. Many men are curious to know how their penises stack up compared to the average. Unfortunately, general curiosity can sometimes give way to full-on obsession and anxiety about penis size. This can be an unhealthy and often unnecessary fixation, especially because most men who think their penises are too small have perfectly normal-sized penises.

Can Sex Reduce Menstrual Cramps?

The SMSNA periodically receives and publishes ‘guest editorials.’ The current article was submitted by Mia Barnes, a freelance writer and researcher who specializes in women's health, wellness, and healthy living. She is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Body+Mind Magazine.

Having sex while you experience menstrual cramps is healthy and can provide significant benefits. While it might not be the first activity that comes to mind when your PMS or period cramping begins, many people enjoy sex to reduce menstrual cramps, experience increased pleasure and benefit from other advantages. Learn more about having sex while menstrual cramps are happening and how it can help your body.

What Is Edging and Why Do People Do It?

Edging is the practice of stopping sexual stimulation before reaching orgasm to prolong a sexual experience. The term stems from the concept of approaching the metaphorical “edge” of orgasm but stopping before going over the edge.

Can Sex Throw off Your Vaginal pH Balance?

The SMSNA periodically receives and publishes ‘guest editorials.’ The current article was submitted by Mia Barnes, a freelance writer and researcher who specializes in women's health, wellness, and healthy living. She is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Body+Mind Magazine.

Your vagina is a pretty powerful organ. It is a pathway for menstrual blood and babies. It also is a main player in sexual intercourse. You might hear about your vagina’s pH and worry that yours is at risk. Here’s what to know about vaginal pH, including the impacts sex could have.

Find a Provider

Find a provider who specializes in sexual medicine in your area.

FIND NOW
Image