What is Sexual OCD?

Similar to Pedophilia OCD, Sexual OCD involves unwanted sexual thoughts, often involving family members, inappropriate persons, animals, or violence. Obsessions of this nature occur equally in both men and women and can play a role in preventing or disrupting intimate relationships due to the fear, anxiety, and distress caused by the individual’s obsessive thoughts. A common misconception is that sexual obsessions are fantasies, but it is not the case. Fantasies provide pleasure, but obsessions are focused on a person’s fear of perversion.  Sexual obsessions are not pleasant and provoke guilt and shame.  Individuals suffering from this type of OCD don’t desire to have such thoughts and ideas and consider them terrible, painful, and shameful.


Common Symptoms Sexual of OCD:

  • Fear of being sexually attracted to animals
  • Fear of being sexually attracted to siblings, parents, or other relatives
  • Fear of becoming aggressive or violent during sex
  • Fear of losing control and acting out sexually
  • Checking for genital arousal when encountering or interacting with the subject of their obsessions
  • Mental rituals aimed at forcing unwanted sexual thoughts away
    • Over-analysis of sexual thoughts
    • Trying to force acceptable sexual thoughts into consciousness
    • Mentally reviewing past sexual behaviors for signs of perversion or depravity


For individuals with OCD, an endless amount of time is spent attempting to answer the unanswerable questions that the OCD posits. OCD is masterful at deceiving the sufferer by saying “if you just spend a little time on this question, you will figure it out and feel so much better!” Because the threat feels so real, it is extremely difficult to resist engaging in mental compulsions. The most imperative item on the agenda becomes gaining certainty. Often times, sufferers will replay past scenarios in their minds, making sure to examine every single “fact” that was present.


Treatment for Sexual OCD

​It is normal to experience intrusive sexual thoughts from time to time. In fact, studies suggest that 90% of individuals experience sexually intrusive thoughts throughout their lifetimes. If you have Sexually Intrusive Thoughts OCD, however, you might view these experiences as threatening and assign a great deal to importance to these thoughts. The goal of treatment is to teach you that you can manage the anxiety associated with intrusive sexual thoughts without performing compulsions or rituals. With practice and experience in facing your fears, you will find yourself to be less disturbed by sexually intrusive thoughts and more able to cope with anxiety and uncertainty.


People suffering from Sexual OCD are encouraged to seek treatment from a mental health treatment provider that specializes in the treatment of OCD.  OCD specialists are equipped and prepared to treat a wide array of OCD subtypes, including Sexual OCD . Like all types of OCD, Sexual OCD can be treated with a combination of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Exposure and Response Prevention.  Contact Lauren Pellizzi to start treatment. 

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