Bipolar Disorder and Sexual Health

Overview

Bipolar disorder is a mood disorder. People who have bipolar disorder experience high levels of both euphoria and depression. Their moods can go from one extreme to the other.

Life events, medication, and recreational drug use can trigger mania and depression. Both moods can last from a few days to a few months.

Bipolar disorder can also affect your sexuality and sexual activity. Your sexual activity may be increased (hypersexuality) and risky during a manic episode. During a depressive episode, you may lose interest in sex. These sexual issues can create problems in relationships and lower your self-esteem.

Sexuality and manic episodes

Your sex drive and sexual impulses during a manic episode can often lead to sexual behavior that isn’t typical for you when you aren’t experiencing mania. Examples of hypersexuality during a manic episode can include:

  • greatly increased sexual activity, without a feeling of sexual satisfaction
  • sex with multiple partners, including strangers
  • excessive masturbation
  • continuous sexual affairs, despite the risk to relationships
  • inappropriate and risky sexual behavior
  • preoccupation with sexual thoughts
  • increased use of pornography

Hypersexuality is a troubling and challenging symptom if you have bipolar disorder. Across several studies they found that anywhere between 25 to 80 percent (with an average of 57 percent) of people who experience mania also experience bipolar hypersexuality. It also appears in more women than men.

Some adults ruin their marriages or relationships because they’re unable to control their sexual urges. Teens and younger children with bipolar disorder may display inappropriate sexual behavior toward adults. This can include inappropriate flirting, inappropriate touching, and heavy use of sexual language.

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