Sex addiction in women: Myth or reality?

Let’s rewind back a few years to the infamous breakup of the divine Halle Berry and estranged husband Eric Benet, which ultimately resulted in Benet attending sex addiction counselling classes.

The news rocked Hollywood and the breakup blew into a monstrous scandal that the media gladly ate up and fuelled. But, what if the alleged sex addict was Berry and not Benet? The woman and not the man?

Excessive sexual behaviour, especially in women, is viewed in many sociocultural contexts as inappropriate, unacceptable and down right whore-ish. Can you imagine how much more intense the media frenzy around a sexually hyperactive Berry would be?

So, is sexual addiction a myth or reality?

The American Society of Addiction Medicine states that there is no clinically defined disorder as such, even though there have been considerable amounts of conducted medical research.

Other psychologists in the UK believe Sexual Addiction is not a new phenomenon and it is usually a binge phase of sexual activity followed by an anorexic phase where one promises their partners they will be good and faithful.

In the most publicised cases, such as Benet’s case and also Hollywood heavyweight Michael Douglas, Sexual Addiction seems to be a condition only pinned on the men.

What about the women?

According to a 2004 Canadian study, researchers estimated that almost 6% of the general population suffers from “Hypersexuality,” and concluded that instead of men, women show slightly higher chances of suffering from the disorder.

Researchers say there are a number of possible theories as to why women may have a higher chance of suffering from Hypersexuality – namely because women have a greater chance in experiencing sexual abuse and other emotional traumatic events that then morphs into coping manners that is similar to compulsive behaviours.

Seen as a disorder that is closer to an Eating Disorder than Alcoholism, those suffering from Sexual Addiction equate sexual pleasure for positive feelings, which ultimately mask other negative emotions resulting from past events.

Journal Reference:
1. Brotto, L.A., & Graziottin, A. Hypersexuality in women: Myth or reality? Urodinamica, 14(2), 84-88.

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