While low libido is a cause for concern for many people, others may wonder why their libido is always so high.
Overall, libido is very individual, but if you’re finding yourself horny all the time, you might be concerned if this is normal and okay, or if it’s a sign of a bigger issue. Experts agree that it’s difficult to establish what’s “normal” when it comes to arousal and frequency of sexual activity.
Using words like “normal” doesn’t actually help, because desire and drive for sex fluctuates throughout life, and you should never feel like your experience is less valid than anybody else’s. Basically, a normal, healthy sex drive is one that you feel comfortable with, whether that’s wanting sex once a month or twice a day.
The key difference between “normal” or healthy sexuality, and sexuality of concern, is the presence of distress about your sexuality, a sense that your behaviour is out of control, and/or negative, real-world consequences to your sexual behaviour. Here are some reasons why you might be constantly needing sex.
When your testosterone level is high, your libido may be higher too. Testosterone is linked to sexual functioning and desire, regardless of gender. Lots of lifestyle factors and bodily processes are associated with increases in testosterone, including exercise, ovulation and puberty. In addition, oestrogen and progesterone also affect libido.
Oestrogen is more clearly linked with physiological arousal such as blood flow to the genitals and vaginal lubrication. It’s also useful to look at the hormones that contribute to pleasure and arousal. Hormones like dopamine and oxytocin tend to flare in the heat of romance, hence why your libido can sometimes seem higher at the start of a new relationship.
You have to consider mental health factors if you are concerned by your sexual behaviour. Sex can be used as a coping mechanism in the same way people binge eat, binge watch TV shows, drink alcohol or abuse drugs to avoid dealing with their emotions and problems. In some cases, trauma (both sexual and non-sexual) can lead to hypersexual behaviour.
You’re definitely not alone if you’ve ever felt horny around the time of your period. Hormonal fluctuations that occur throughout the menstrual cycle can both increase and decrease libido.
Testosterone and oestrogen peak during ovulation (about 14 days before your period), and the influx of both hormones tends to increase the sexual drive. When there is an increase in blood flow to the pelvic and genital regions, blood flow to the vagina may increase sexual desire.
Sex addiction is similar to addiction to playing video games, using your smartphone or watching porn. However, these behaviours are not physiologically addictive in the same way as using heroin, alcohol or cocaine are.
Sex addiction was considered for inclusion in the most recent fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) – a key diagnostic tool used by American psychiatrists, as well as many worldwide, to diagnose psychiatric illnesses – but was rejected due to lack of scientific evidence.
There is ongoing debate about what sex addiction really is. For some experts, it is a manufactured disorder, while others feel that it is a behavioural addiction, similar to Internet gaming disorder or pathological gambling disorder.
A few factors could increase sexual arousal during pregnancy. The increased level of oestrogen in women’s bodies can improve their sex drive, thanks to all that blood flow going to the genital areas, which increases and improves sensation. The good news it that it is perfectly safe to engage in sex while pregnant. If you’re worried about positioning, a more comfortable position might be for the woman to lie on her side with her partner behind her.
In the early stages of a relationship, it’s quite normal for passion and excitement to abound, which often translates to high levels of sexual desire and activity. Physiologically, this “honeymoon” stage of a relationship involves a number of hormones and neurotransmitters that create very strong emotional and sexual feelings known as limerence.
While limerence may eventually wear off, couples in long-term relationships can continue to enjoy their sex life by building trust and openly communicating about their sexual needs.
Ask yourself these questions to determine if you should be concerned about your high sex drive:
- Are there certain emotions, relationship challenges or behaviours that seem to lead to increased sexual interest?
- If you are acting on your sexual urges, are you still able to keep yourself safe (from sexually-transmitted infections and unwanted pregnancy, among others)?
- Have you experienced any negative consequences from your sexual behaviour?
If you notice that sex is taking the place of social time or affecting your overall day-to-day functionality, do schedule an appointment with a psychologist or doctor to discuss the issue. And to get the most out of the consultation, do be honest with them about your behaviour.
The role of your doctor or mental health specialist is to help you work through root issues such as hormonal disorders or mental health problems, and reach a place where you’re happy and comfortable with your sex drive – whatever it may look like.
By Datuk Dr Nor Ashikin Mokhtar
Published in Star Newspaper, 17 May 2021