Sexual Effects of ADHD Different in Men and Women

Sexual Effects of ADHD Different in Men and Women

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) could affect the severity of hypersexuality in both men and women, but a link with problematic pornography use appears to be stronger in men, new research suggests.

Often diagnosed in childhood, ADHD is characterized by restlessness, impulsiveness, and risky behavior. ADHD can continue into adulthood. In fact, Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD), estimates that about 10 million adults have ADHD. It is more common in males than in females.

Hypersexuality is an obsession with sex with urges that are hard to manage. A hypersexual person might masturbate often, seek multiple sexual partners, and engage in unsafe sexual behaviors in order to satisfy their urges.

A person who has problems with pornography might view pornographic material excessively, to the point that it interferes with daily life and functioning.

In March 2019, the Journal of Sexual Medicine published a study that investigated ADHD symptoms, hypersexuality, and problematic pornography use in relation to each other. Researchers also questioned how situations might be different for men and for women.

They asked about 14,000 people to complete an online survey, asking questions about ADHD, sexuality, and pornography consumption. The participants ranged in age from 18 to 76, with an average age of 34. Thirty percent were women.

The researchers found that the association between hypersexuality and problematic pornography use was “positive and moderate” for women and “positive and strong” for men. For both men and women, ADHD symptoms were positively and moderately associated with hypersexuality.

Associations between ADHD symptoms and problematic pornography use were different for men and women, however. For men, the link was positive and moderate, but for women, it was “positive, but weak.”

“In sum, ADHD symptom severity may play similar roles in hypersexuality and problematic pornography use in the case of men, whereas, in the case of women, it is more likely that ADHD symptoms would contribute to hypersexuality than to problematic pornography use,” the authors wrote.

It’s possible that hypersexuality might be a way people with ADHD cope with stress and anxiety, the researchers noted. This “self-medication” notion might also apply to men with ADHD and problematic pornography use. But women may not choose pornography as a coping mechanism, and this could explain the weak link between ADHD and pornography use for them. More research is needed in this area.

The authors recommended that men struggling with hypersexuality or problematic pornography use be screened for ADHD. They added ADHD should be assessed in women with hypersexuality, but not necessarily in women with problematic pornography use.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

“What is ADHD?”

(Page last reviewed: August 26, 2019)

Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD)

“For Adults – Overview”

The Journal of Sexual Medicine

Bőthe, Beáta, MA, et al.

“Investigating the Associations Of Adult ADHD Symptoms, Hypersexuality, and Problematic Pornography Use Among Men and Women on a Largescale, Non-Clinical Sample”

(Full-text. Published online: March 6, 2019)

“Study: Almost 9% of Americans Have Compulsive Sexual Behavior Disorder”