World Mental Health Day: When does sex become too much?
On the 10th October every year, the world comes together to celebrate World Mental Health Day to help raise awareness about important mental health matters. This year, we’ve decided to explore the topic of sex addiction to discover the crucial question of ‘when does sex become too much?’.
We all have different sexual appetites; some of us prefer to indulge once or twice a week while others prefer to raid the sexual desert cart every day of the week - maybe even several times a day. In the media, we’ve seen celebrities such as Russell Brand, Michael Douglas, Pamela Anderson and Ulrika Jonsson seek treatment for sex addiction’ or ‘hyper-sexual disorder’ which can further fuel our anxiety on whether our behaviour is normal or not.
Many studies have taken place to show the average number of times an individual has sex, however, as our sexual desires vary from person-to-person, what feels healthy to you may feel like ‘too much’ to another individual. Therefore, this World Mental Health Day, let’s find out more about what is classed as sex addiction, how much sex is normal, what to do if you’re worried and how you can protect yourself from sexually transmitted infections.
What is classed as ‘sex addiction’?
The World Health Organisation defines sex addiction as “an inability to control intense sexual urges leading to people neglecting their health despite often deriving no pleasure from being intimate”. This means that those engaging with compulsive sexual behaviour despite negative consequences could be labelled as having a sex addiction and having too much sex - whether the sexual activity is sex with a partner, masturbation, watching pornography, frequently visiting prostitutes or using sex-lines or cyber-sex.
While sex addiction is not a classified psychological disorder in the DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) or APA (American Psychological Association) handbooks, The Royal College of Psychiatrists argue that between 4-6% of the UK population are thought to suffer from sex addiction.
How much sex is normal?
The quantity of sexual activity that feels right will vary from person to person. What is normal for you will depend on how you feel about the amount of sexual activity you are having. If the amount feels good and healthy, then chances are it’s a healthy amount. If you are unsure or think you are having too much sex, then it could be a sex addiction - a few questions you could ask yourself this World Mental Health Day are;
- What is my gut instinct telling me about the amount of sex I am having? Does it feel good? Or is it wrapped up in guilt and shame?
Why do I love to have sex? Is it due to a high sex drive? Demonstrating your love to a partner? Relieving stress or providing fun? - all perfectly healthy reasons to have sex.
Are you in pain? Are you experiencing chafing? Soreness or numbness or pain during intercourse? If you are, it may be your body's way of telling you to slow down a while.
- Is your sexual activity affecting your life in a negative way? Are you cheating on your partner? Getting in debt? Missing work or appointments? If this is the case, then it might be time to seek help from a professional sex therapist.
What do you do if you’re worried about the quantity of sexual activity?
If you’re worried about the quantity of sexual activity you are doing, there’s a few things you can do; attempt to slow down or have an abstinence break for a while, talk to your partner about your concerns or speak to a healthcare professional who may be able to uncover the ‘why’ behind your sexual activity and help you to change the behaviour.
The important thing to do if you are worried is to talk to someone. Support is not just available on World Mental Health Day, but you can find support every day of the week. Here are a few organisations that can offer you confidential support as well as a non-judgement voice to talk to.
Relate - Help with Sex Addiction
Sex Addicts Annoymous in the UK
The Association for the Treatment of Sexual Addiction and Compulsivity
The NHS - Can you become addicted to sex?
How can I prevent myself from catching sexually transmitted infections?
If you take part in any sexual activity, you are at risk of either pregnancy or catching a sexually transmitted infection (STI). The more sexual activity you have, the higher the risk. Therefore, it’s important that you use a condom every time you have vaginal, anal or oral sex. As well as ensuring you or your partner wear condoms, getting a sexual health screen on a regular basis (we recommend annually or on change of a sexual partner) will help reduce the risk of catching and passing an STI on.
Between the 1st and 15th October, we are offering buy one, get one free on all mint lubricant - so while you are stocking up on condoms, treat yourself to some lubricant for an enhanced pleasurable experience.