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Nymphomania

By

Healthgrades Editorial Staff

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.

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.

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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.

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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.

Medical Reviewers: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Review Date: Nov 23, 2016

© 2017 Healthgrades Operating Company, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Healthgrades Operating Company, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the Healthgrades User Agreement.

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Medical References

  1. Understanding compulsive sexual behavior. American Psychological Association. http://www.apa.org/monitor/oct03/compulsive.aspx.
  2. Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). National Institute of Mental Health. http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/when-unwanted-thoughts-take-over-obsessive-compulsive-di....
  3. Domino FJ (Ed.) Five Minute Clinical Consult. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2013.

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