Sex addiction may be more common than previously thought. Findings of a new research suggest that up to 8 percent of Americans struggle to control their sexual urges.
Janna Dickenson of the University of Minnesota and colleagues said that 10 percent of men and 7 percent of women claim to have significant levels of stress and dysfunctions linked to their sexual thoughts or behaviors.
In their new study, which was published in the JAMA Network Open on Friday, November 9, Dickenson and colleagues looked at the data of more than 2,300 adults between 18- and 50-years-old from all 50 U.S states who participated in the National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior.
The researchers then rated the participants' distress and impairment associated with difficulty controlling sexual urges, feelings and behaviors using a scale known as the Compulsive Sexual Behavior Inventory, or CSBI.
A score of at least 35 on a scale of 0 to 65 indicated clinically relevant levels of distress and/or impairment.
The researchers found that overall, 8.6 percent of the participants scored this high and 40 percent of them were women.
"These results prompt us to thoughtfully consider our assumptions and biases about gender and sexuality and how they can contribute to sexual health concerns," Dickenson said, according to Newsweek.
"More research needs to be done to determine whether women's distress about their sexual urges and behaviors is comparable to the distress that men feel about their sexual urges and behaviors."
The study also showed that compulsive sexual behavior problems may be more common than major depression, which affects 5 percent of people, according to NBC News.
The researchers, however, explained that the behaviors can vary widely. Some individuals, for instance, masturbate excessively to the point that it starts to interfere with their ability to work. Some people, on the other hand, may be paying for sex too much that it damages them financially.
Dickenson said that sexual behaviors become a problem once they have destructive influence on a person's life.
"There is a difference between feelings and actions, and thoughts and actions; having trouble controlling urges is not the same as acting on urges," Michael Klein, from Gracie Square Hospital in New York City, told HealthDay.
Based on their findings, the researchers urged health care professionals to be alert to the number of people with distress about their sexual behavior.
They also encouraged doctors to assess the nature of the problem and to look for appropriate treatments for both men and women.