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Introduction

Some individuals with neurological disorders may notice a change in their desire for sex. In some cases, the desire for sex can increase, and this is called hypersexuality. Hypersexuality may cause significant problems for you, your partner, and others around you.

The following website provides information for patients with neurological disorders who have hypersexuality, and their partners, in the hopes of facilitating the discussion about hypersexuality.

What is hypersexuality?

An individual with hypersexuality experiences a change or increase in sexual thoughts, desires, and behaviors. Some of the things that they may experience include:

  • 1. Difficulty resisting sexual desires
  • 2. Increased frequency of sexual desires, thoughts, and/or behaviors
  • 3. Developing new sexual desires, thoughts, and/or behaviors that were not present before the neurological disorder
  • 4. Feeling preoccupied with sex, sometimes to the extent that it disrupts daily living
  • 5. Continuing the sexual behavior despite the negative impact these are having
  • 6. Feeling frustrated and annoyed when unable to engage in the desired sexual behavior
  • In what neurological disorders has hypersexuality been reported?

    • 1. Parkinson’s disease
    • 2. Dementia

    • 3. Epilepsy
    • 4. Kluver-Bucy syndrome
    • 5. Kleine-Levin syndrome

    • 6. Traumatic brain injury
    • 7. Multiple sclerosis
    • 8. Restless legs syndrome
    • 9. Progressive supranuclear palsy
    • 10. Multiple system atrophy
    • 11. Stroke
    • 12. Huntington’s disease
    • 13. Encephalitis
    • 14. Brain disease
    • 15. Fatal familial insomnia
    • 16. Tourette’s syndrome
    • 17. Spinocerebellar ataxia 3
    • After reading through the information on this website, you may feel like you want to further discuss the issue. Below are the contact details for two people at UCL who you can contact to discuss the issue. They are ready to talk to you and offer advice as is suitable to you. If any contact is made, please be assured that any correspondence will remain confidential unless otherwise requested by you.

Natalie Tayim
skgttay@ucl.ac.uk

Caroline Selai
c.selai@ucl.ac.uk

You may choose to click on the Contact Us tab, which will automatically take you to a contact form.

HYPERSEXUALITY IN NEUROLOGICAL DISORDERS

Why do individuals with neurological disorders become hypersexual?

The exact cause of hypersexuality remains uncertain; however, please be reassured that it is not your fault. Do not feel guilty or question yourself. Research shows that hypersexuality can present in individuals with neurological disease either as a manifestation of the neurological disorder itself, or as a result of certain treatments used to manage the disorder. For example, hypersexuality has been known to occur in individuals with dementia, during the course of the disease. In Parkinson’s disease, hypersexuality has been known to occur and is thought to be related to some of the medications used to manage the disorder. Please be aware that this does not mean that the patient should stop taking their medications.

Please inform the patient’s GP or neurologist about the changes experienced, and they will be able to assist accordingly.

How common is hypersexuality in different neurological disorders?

Although it is difficult at this point in time to say how common hypersexuality is in individuals with neurological disorders, please know that you are not alone in what you are experiencing. It is not an uncommon experience, and many others experience similar sexual changes and are affected by them.

How does hypersexuality manifest?

Individuals can be affected by the hypersexuality in different ways. Some of the things that may be noticed include:

  • 1. An increased desire for sex with partner or otherwise
  • 2. A change in sexual orientation

  • 3. An increased desire to please oneself sexually
  • 4. An increased desire for pornography and prostitutes
  • 5. An increased desire for people and/or objects that the patient would not typically feel sexually attracted to

  • 6. An increased desire to experiment sexually with partner or otherwise
  • These are only a few examples that could be experienced after developing hypersexuality. You should remain aware of the way these can affect you and those around you.

    How can I talk about this when sex is such a taboo?

    Sex was a taboo subject many years ago. A lot has changed since then. Cultures and societies have changed and it is now often easier to talk about sex. Although the discussion of this topic is still challenging to some people, sex and sexual identity are natural things. Stigmas are constructed by the world around us and attitudes can therefore change. If it is important to you to discuss sex and your sexual life, you should look for an opportunity to do so that will help you. You might feel hesitant at first opening up a discussion about the hypersexuality, but please be reassured that there are people available to talk to. As with any other health condition in the world, the sooner you take steps to talk about it, the sooner it can be discussed and managed.

    How do I talk to the people in my life about the hypersexuality?

    You might feel nervous about discussing the hypersexuality with your partner, your family, and/or your friends. You might also be worried about the consequences of such a discussion, especially if those around you are not aware of the extent of the hypersexuality. You might feel nervous because you do not want to cause them hurt. You might not want to feel embarrassment. You might even choose not to tell them because you are concerned that it could possibly put an end to your hypersexuality. You must be aware, however, that not discussing the hypersexuality does not mean it does not exist in the eyes of the people closest to you. The people around you care about you and care about what you are going through. If you find that you need expert help, please be assured that you have access to professionals who can help through your GP.

    What can I do if I find it difficult to find a health professional who can support me?

    You will probably be under the care of a GP and as with all professionals, they may choose to seek additional help on the matter of hypersexuality. Since hypersexuality has only recently become more and more recognized, it may take a while to find someone with expertise who can help you. You might feel discouraged, embarrassed, and frustrated that you have not been able to access the help you want. Do not give up. Every patient can access health care through their GP. Please be reassured that many people are conducting research all over the world in search of more and more answers about hypersexuality to be able to help you and others experiencing this.

    How do I get the appropriate help for the hypersexuality and its consequences?

    You are not alone. You do not have to suffer alone. There are options for you to be able to speak only about your worries and feelings in a safe and supportive environment. Below are the contact details for two people at UCL who you can contact to discuss the issue. They are ready to talk to you and offer advice as is suitable for you. If any contact is made, please be assured that any correspondence will remain confidential unless otherwise requested by you.

Natalie Tayim
skgttay@ucl.ac.uk

Caroline Selai
c.selai@ucl.ac.uk

If you are a partner of a patient with hypersexuality, please access the “More information for partners” tab.

More information for partners

How do I know if my partner is hypersexual?

Sometimes it is difficult to know whether someone close to you has developed hypersexuality. Your partner might hide the sexual behavior or you might not know exactly what to look for. Some things to look for might include:

  • 1. An increased interest in pornography of any kind (Internet, magazines, televisions, etc.…)
  • 2. An increased interest in pleasing themselves
  • 3. New sexual interests not present before your partner’s neurological disorder
  • 4. Increased demands for sex
  • 5. Calls to sex phone lines
  • 6. Increasingly spending money
  • 7. Increased use of medication used to treat erectile dysfunction

Please be aware that not all patients with neurological disorders develop hypersexuality. Unless there is a persistent change or intensification in your partner’s sexual behavior, it is likely that they are not hypersexual.

How am I supposed to react to my partner’s hypersexuality?

There is no right or wrong way to react to your partner’s hypersexuality. You may feel frustrated. You may feel depressed. You may feel angry and hurt. You may feel neglected and unappreciated. It may feel overwhelming to deal with your partner’s hypersexuality, as well as their neurological disorder. You might feel that not many people are able to understand what you are going through. It is important for you to know that all those feelings can be managed. You might not be hearing what you want from your partner but the consequences of your partner’s hypersexuality, like all disorders, can be discussed when proper help is accessed.

Why can’t my partner control their sexual behavior?

Although it may seem difficult amidst your partner’s unusual behavior, you should try to remember that your partner’s hypersexuality is not purposeful, and is a result of their neurological disorder or treatments. Most people with hypersexuality would stop if they could. They had no control over their neurological disorder developing and consequently had no control over their hypersexuality. This, of course, does not mean that there is nothing to be done or that you should just stand by and watch it unfold. There is always something that can be done to help alleviate the pain you might be experiencing.

Why is it so difficult to discuss the hypersexuality with my partner?

You might have tried to have unsuccessful conversations with your partner about hypersexuality. Research shows that neurological patients with hypersexuality often lack insight into the problem. Insight is when the patient recognizes that their hypersexuality is a problem and have a true desire to overcome it. It might often feel difficult to get through to a patient without insight and for this reason, you might need to consider other options, including accessing professional help through your GP.

How do I get the appropriate help for the hypersexuality and its consequences?

You are not alone. You do not have to suffer alone. There are options for you to be able to speak only about your worries, feelings, and experiences in a safe and supportive environment. You should not feel ashamed for feeling the way you do about the hypersexuality. Below are the contact details for two people at UCL who you can contact to discuss the issue. They are ready to talk to you and offer advice as is suitable for you. If any contact is made, please be assured that any correspondence will remain confidential unless otherwise requested by you.

Natalie Tayim
skgttay@ucl.ac.uk

Caroline Selai
c.selai@ucl.ac.uk

Contact US

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Possible references to consult for more information

Website

http://serendip.brynmawr.edu/exchange/jessica-wurtz/hypersexuality-and-neurological-disease

Journal articles

Nakum S, Cavanna AE. The prevalence and clinical characteristics of hypersexuality in patients with Parkinson's disease following dopaminergic therapy: A systematic literature review. Parkinsonism Relat Disord. 2016;25:10-6.

Codling D, Shaw P, David A. Hypersexuality in Parkinson’s disease: systematic review and report of 7 new cases. Movement Disorders Clinical Practice. 2015;2(2):116-26.

Bronner G. Sexual problems in Parkinson's disease: the multidimensional nature of the problem and of the intervention. J Neurol Sci. 2011;310(1-2):139-43.

Mendez M, Shapira JS. Pedophilic behavior from brain disease. J Sex Med. 2011;8(4):1092-100.

Alagiakrishnan K, Lim D, Brahim A, Wong A, Wood A, Senthilselvan A, et al. Sexually inappropriate behaviour in demented elderly people. Postgrad Med J. 2005;81(957):463-6.

Tsai SJ, Hwang JP, Yang CH, Liu KM, Lirng JF. Inappropriate sexual behaviors in dementia: a preliminary report. Alzheimer Dis Assoc Disord. 1999;13(1):60-2.

Burns A, Jacoby R, Levy R. Behavioral abnormalities and psychiatric symptoms in Alzheimer's disease: preliminary findings. Int Psychogeriatr. 1990;2(1):25-36.

Mendez MF, Shapira JS. Internet pornography and frontotemporal dementia. J Neuropsychiatry Clin Neurosci. 2011;23(2):E3.

Dang D, Cunnington D, Swieca J. The emergence of devastating impulse control disorders during dopamine agonist therapy of the restless legs syndrome. Clin Neuropharmacol. 2011;34(2):66-70.

Simpson GK, Sabaz M, Daher M. Prevalence, clinical features, and correlates of inappropriate sexual behavior after traumatic brain injury: a multicenter study. J Head Trauma Rehabil. 2013;28(3):202-10.

Arnulf I, Lin L, Gadoth N, File J, Lecendreux M, Franco P, et al. Kleine-Levin syndrome: a systematic study of 108 patients. Ann Neurol. 2008;63(4):482-93.

Shukla GD, Srivastava ON, Katiyar BC. Sexual disturbances in temporal lobe epilepsy:a controlled study. Br J Psychiatry. 1979;134:288-92.

Saunders M, Rawson M. Sexuality in male epileptics. J Neurol Sci. 1970;10(6):577-83.

Hainline B, Devinsky O, Reding M. Behavioral problems in stroke rehabilitation patients: A prospective pilot study. J Stroke Cerebrovasc Dis. 1992;2(3):131-5.

Hypersexuality in neurological disorders