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ICD-10 F52.7
ICD-9 302.89
DiseasesDB {{{DiseasesDB}}}
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Hypersexuality is an aspect of psychosexual behavior and describes a desire for human sexual behavior at levels high enough to be considered clinically significant.

The concept of hypersexuality replaces the older concepts of nymphomania and satyriasis. Nymphomania was believed to be a psychological disorder peculiar to females and characterized by an overactive libido and an obsession with sex. In males the disorder was called satyriasis. "Nymphomania" and "satyriasis" are no longer listed as specific disorders in the DSM-IV.

Nymphomania owes its name to the feminine nature spirits of Ancient Greece, known as nymphs. These ethereal beings were known in folklore for their sensuality and overtly sexual pursuit of men. The term nymphomaniac is perhaps best known to consumers of pornography, where women are often described as "nymphos" or "nymphomaniacs." Satyriasis owes its name to the mythical masculine creatures of Ancient Greece, half man/half goat creatures known as Satyrs.

The threshold for what constitutes hypersexuality is subject to debate, and critics question if a standardized diagnostic threshold even exists. Sex drive varies widely in humans, and what one person would consider a "normal" sex drive might be considered excessive by some, and low by others. The consensus among those who consider this a disorder is that the threshold is met when the behavior causes distress or impaired social functioning.

Hypersexuality and physical conditions

Hypersexuality can be a symptom of bipolar disorder and is generally associated with the manic phase of the disease. It can result in behavior that the manic person later regrets (depressive phase).

The condition can also be caused by Kluver-Bucy syndrome, a neurobehavioral syndrome associated with bilateral medial temporal lobe dysfunction. Lesions to the amygdala in the Limbic system can also cause hypersexuality.

It has sometimes been reported following brain injuries and diseases that cause dementia and loss of impulse control. Additionally, hypersexuality is a reported side effect of dopamine agonists such as pramipexole.

Hypersexuality is characterized by an impairing need for frequent genital stimulation that does not result in sexual satisfaction. This dissatisfaction is what is believed to encourage the heightened frequency of sexual stimulation, as well as additional physiological and neurological symptoms.

Useful references on hypersexuality

  • Carol Groneman, Nymphomania: A History, (London: Fusion Press, 2001)

See also


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