Nymphomania

Was this helpful?
(95)
Introduction

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.

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.

Common symptoms of nymphomania

You may experience nymphomania symptoms daily or just once in a while. At times any of these nymphomania symptoms can be severe:

  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Feelings of shame or inadequacy
  • Guilt
  • Repeated, uncontrollable behaviors (compulsion)
  • Repeated, unwanted thoughts (obsession)

Serious symptoms that might indicate a life-threatening condition

In some cases, compulsive disorders or mental illness that occurs with nymphomania can be life threatening. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you, or someone you are with, have any of these life-threatening symptoms including:

  • Being a danger to yourself or others, including threatening, irrational or suicidal behavior
  • Inability to care for yourself
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).

What are the risk factors for nymphomania?

A number of factors increase the risk of developing nymphomania. Not all people with risk factors will get nymphomania. Risk factors for nymphomania include:

  • Age under 30
  • Family history of mental illness
  • Female gender
  • Homosexual orientation
  • Personal history of mental illness
  • Recent traumatic life event
  • Stress
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.

Treatments for nymphomania

Treatments for nymphomania are similar to treatment for other compulsive disorders, and may include:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (to help you cope with triggers)

  • Family or social therapy

  • Medications, including antianxiety medications, antidepressant medications, and antipsychotic medications

  • Talk therapy

What you can do to improve your nymphomania

In addition to following the treatment plan developed by your health care providers, you may be able to help self-manage your nymphomania by:

  • Eating a balanced and healthy diet

  • Engaging in social activities and other activities that you find enjoyable

  • Getting regular exercise and sleep

  • Participating in a support group

  • Seeking support from family and friends

Complementary treatments

Some complementary treatments may help some people to better deal with nymphomania. These treatments, sometimes referred to as alternative therapies, are used in conjunction with traditional medical treatments. Complementary treatments are not meant to substitute for traditional medical care. Be sure to notify your doctor if you are consuming nutritional supplements or homeopathic (nonprescription) remedies as they may interact with the prescribed medical therapy.

Complementary treatments may include:

  • Acupuncture

  • Massage therapy

  • Nutritional dietary supplements, herbal remedies, tea beverages, and similar products

  • Yoga

What are the potential complications of nymphomania?

The compulsive sexual behavior of nymphomania is very risky. In addition to causing social problems, it can lead to the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. It is important to seek treatment for nymphomania to prevent complications for yourself and others.

Complications of untreated or poorly controlled nymphomania can be serious. You can help minimize your risk of serious complications by following the treatment plan you and your health care professional design specifically for you. Complications of nymphomania include:

  • Depression

  • Inability to perform normally in activities

  • Increased risk for contracting sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)

  • Loss of employment

  • Loss of relationships

  • Social problems

Was this helpful?
(95)
Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Last Review Date: 2019 Jan 5
  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.
Explore Mental Health and Behavior
Recommended Reading
Next Up
  • Olanzapine uses include treating schizophrenia and bipolar disorder (manic-depressive disorder). It should not be used to treat behavioral problems in older adults with dementia. Using an antipsychotic drug, like olanzapine, in this population increases the risk of death. Zyprexa is the brand name.
  • Lexapro (escitalopram) is an antidepressant. It’s a member of the SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) class.
  • Sertraline HCl is in the SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) class of antidepressants. Zoloft is the brand name.
  • Prozac is used for treating depression, anxiety attacks, obsessive-compulsive disorder, premenstrual dysphoric disorder, eating disorders, and more.
  • Prozac (fluoxetine) inhibits the reuptake, or reabsorption of the brain chemical serotonin (a 'feel good' chemical) into neurons at nerve ‘synapses’—where nerve cells connect and relay nerve impulses.
  • The main use for nortriptyline is in treating depression; it is also used to help control panic disorder and chronic nerve pain.
  • Common Cymbalta side effects include dry mouth, drowsiness, dizziness, fatigue, constipation, and loss of appetite, but they may go away with continued use.
  • The benefits of taking Cymbalta include fewer side effects compared to older tricyclic antidepressants, such as amitriptyline (Elavil).
Answers to Your Health Questions
Trending Videos