Expert advice

Desiree Spierings: sexologist

Desiree is the Director of Sexual Health Australia and is a qualified and experienced Sex Therapist and Relationship Counsellor. Desiree answers female related sex questions for ninemsn Health. ASK ME A QUESTION QUESTION

Sex addiction

Monday, January 24, 2011
"The more severe the addiction/compulsion, the more it has a negative impact on your day-to-day life."


I am 48 years old and I have sex at least once a week, but not always with my wife of almost 20 years. If anything I am not really interested in my wife for sex. We have a great relationship but next-to-no sex life so I gave up. Now I mostly have sex with women who make themselves available or I go to a brothel. What do I do to change my life and stop this addiction, otherwise I will just continue going to a brothel?


Whether a specific sexual behaviour, such as going to a brothel or having affairs, is a sexual addiction depends on whether you have control over it. So not everyone who goes to brothels or has multiple sexual affairs is a sex addict. The difference is that those who are sex addicts want to stop going, but cannot stop, and those are not addicts can stop going, but do not want to stop.

So first of all you need to identify whether you actually have control over your behaviour, if you do not have control over it, it may be classified as an addiction or compulsion. Additionally, we would look at how much this influences your day-to-day life. Does it interfere with your relationship, your ability to do your work, your financial situation etc? The more severe the addiction/compulsion, the more it has a negative impact on your day-to-day life.

Then I like to look at an addiction in four stages: trigger, urge, road to action, action. So first of all there is something that "triggers" you to go. These could be things such as, a fight with your wife, stress at work, seeing a sexual image, etc. It is important for you to start to identify these triggers.

Then there is "the urge" to have to go to a brothel or to have sex, where you just can't think of anything else anymore. It is then important to realise that when the trigger has gone off, and the urge is overflowing that you are not at a brothel immediately. You first need to decide to go to a brothel, choose the brothel, get into your car to get to the brothel, park your car, walk to the brothel, ring the doorbell, and walk in. So there is this "road to action". And finally, there is the "action" itself, where you started to have sex.

It is important that at all four points, you still have a chance to stop this. You can turn around and make the decision to say "no". It is about controlling the trigger and the urge in a different way, either via a relation exercise, sport, putting the energy into your wife, etc

If you have a severe addiction and you are unable to control it, I would recommend looking into a 12-step program.

For more information please visit the Sexual Health Australia website.

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