The effect of bipolar disorder on sex

Sex is an important part of most of our lives, and this is also true for people with bipolar disorder. However, when bipolar disorder is as complicated as the disease itself, maintain healthy sexual relationships.

Depending on the individual, behavior may change from a period of excessive sexual desire to a period of severely weakened sexual desire and sexual function. This high degree of variability can affect a person’s ability to date or maintain a long-term relationship.

On the one hand, impulses related to bipolar disorder can encourage unhealthy and even harmful behaviors, and the severity of depression can strain even the most loyal relationships.

Mania and hypersexuality

Hypersexuality is one of the behaviors that may manifest as symptoms of mania.It is defined as an increase in the need for sexual satisfaction, which is characterized by a decrease in inhibition and/or a desire for prohibited sexual behavior.

It is not uncommon for people to experience intense sexual desire during a manic episode. On its own, this is not a problem. When it is combined with impulsivity, risk taking, poor judgment, and bloat-all the hallmarks of bipolar mania-hypersexuality can be destructive.

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When the pursuit of sex becomes compulsive, it may even be classified as a sex addiction.Although this classification is still considered controversial, if a person spends too much time in sex-related activities to the point that they ignore important social, professional or recreational activities, it can be said that he or she has become addicted .

Features of sex addiction may include:

  • Anonymous sex with multiple partners
  • Compulsive masturbation
  • Compulsive sex with sex workers
  • Frequent sex-oriented places
  • Habitual exhibitionism
  • Habitual voyeurism
  • Inappropriate sexual contact
  • Multiple matters outside of the promised relationship

Although hypersexuality and sexual addiction are not inherent aspects of bipolar mania, it is important to recognize these signs.

These behaviors may not only damage the originally stable relationship, but also expose individuals to higher risks of sexually transmitted infections and other harm. Therefore, finding the right combination of drugs to control mania is essential to prevent hypersexuality from becoming destructive.

The effect of depression on sexual function

Depression can kill sexual desire. It’s not just the mood disorder itself that causes this; the drugs used to treat depression can inhibit libido and sexual function.

People with bipolar disorder sometimes have little interest in sex for months or even years. This makes it more difficult to pursue or maintain a relationship. Depression, by its very nature, promotes feelings of inadequacy and self-blame, which translates into people’s overall feelings about sex.

Bipolar disorder can challenge relationships in many different ways:

  • Insufficient sleep: exhaustion can even exhaust the pursuit of sex emotionally and physically.
  • Medications: Certain medications used to treat bipolar disorder (especially selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs) can reduce a person’s libido and/or ability to achieve orgasm or erection.
  • Negative cycle: The less sex a person has, the more likely he or she will feel guilt and self-doubt.
  • Self-care: Lack of hygiene and grooming usually accompany these feelings.
  • Self-esteem: People with bipolar disorder often feel physically unattractive and unwelcome. Feelings of inadequacy, vulnerability, and worthlessness can also interfere with intimacy.

Lack of sexual interest is only one of the possible consequences of bipolar depression. In some cases, a person will act in the opposite way, showing symptoms of hypersexuality as a means of compensating for these negative emotions.

Although the treatment of bipolar depression must always be the main focus, it does not necessarily harm a person’s libido. There are some ways to control the sexual side effects of biphasic drugs without affecting treatment.

In general, SSRIs have not been found to be particularly effective for bipolar disorder. Mood stabilizers such as lithium, Depakote (valproic acid), and Lamictal (lamotrigine) are considered more effective and generally have fewer sexual side effects.