What is nymphomania?

Nymphomania is a mental disorder marked by compulsive sexual behavior. Compulsions are unwanted actions, or rituals, that a person engages in repeatedly without getting pleasure from them or being able to control them. In the case of nymphomania, people act out their compulsions by engaging in risky behaviors such as promiscuity. Whether or not nymphomania qualifies as a true mental illness is often debated in the medical community, but evidence suggests that compulsive sexual behavior is a real and serious illness.

Mental Health Spotlight

Nymphomania can happen to any adult, though it is thought that it may be more common in women and homosexual men. Technically, the term “nymphomaniac” refers to a woman, though that definition has expanded to include anyone who engages in risky compulsive sexual behavior. In addition to compulsive sexual behavior, nymphomania may include problems thinking, unwanted repetitive thoughts (obsession), and feelings of guilt, shame or inadequacy.

The underlying cause of nymphomania is not known. Nymphomania is a mental and emotional condition, and, like other such conditions, is complicated. Like other mental illnesses, nymphomania may arise as a result of environment, heredity, and life events. It may also be linked to a chemical imbalance in the brain.

Treatment for nymphomania may involve psychotherapy and medication. Medications for nymphomania may include antidepressants or antianxiety or antipsychotic medications, similar to the medications used for other compulsive disorders. Because compulsive sexual behavior is risky, people with nymphomania are at increased risk for developing complications such as sexually transmitted diseases.

Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you have compulsive behaviors along with other symptoms of serious, uncontrollable mental illness or brain damage, including bizarre behavior or behavior that endangers yourself or others, including threatening, irrational or suicidal behavior.

Seek prompt medical care if you are being treated for nymphomania or other compulsions, but compulsions persist or cause you concern.

SYMPTOMS

What are the symptoms of nymphomania?

The primary symptom of nymphomania is compulsive sexual behavior, including promiscuity. It may occur with other symptoms of obsessive compulsive disorder or other mental illnesses or personality disorders.... Read more about nymphomaniasymptoms

CAUSES

What causes nymphomania?

The exact cause of nymphomania is not known. Nymphomania is a type of compulsive disorder marked by mental and emotional imbalance. It is thought that certain life events may trigger people who are predisposed to nymphomania (for hereditary or environmental reasons) to engage in compulsive sexual behavior. Like many other mental illnesses, nymphomania may be linked to an imbalance in chemicals in the brain (neurotransmitters).... Read more about nymphomaniacauses

TREATMENTS

How is nymphomania treated?

There is no cure for nymphomania. Like many other mental illnesses, nymphomania may be treated with medication, psychotherapy, or a combination of the two. With treatment, it is possible to manage compulsive sexual behavior.... Read more about nymphomaniatreatments

Medical Reviewer: All content has been reviewed by board-certified physicians under the direction of Rich Klasco, M.D., FACEP. Last Annual Review Date: May 2, 2011 Copyright: © Copyright 2011 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Mental Health and Behavior