Considering how many aspects of our lives ADHD influences, it shouldn’t be surprising that it also impacts our libido.
The important question is: how exactly?
Does ADHD make us more sexually active because it’s an incredible source of dopamine or does it have an opposite effect where we don’t care about it because we can’t focus on it?
If you know your way around ADHD, the answer will depend on the person, their lifestyle choices, and how their ADHD manifests.
So, today, let’s explore all the nooks and crannies of ADHD and sex connection:
- The connection between ADHD and sexual drive
- How ADHD symptoms influence intimacy
- ADHD Hyposexuality vs. Hypersexuality
- How to cope with the negative consequences
Alright, are you ready?
Let’s dig in.
[ADHD and Sex Drive] What Is The Connection Between ADHD And Sex Drive?
Before we dive into a more in-depth study of ADHD hypo- and hypersexuality, let’s take a moment to establish a more general and ever-present connection.
ADHD, after all, isn’t just about being forgetful or inattentive. It’s a complex condition that influences our thoughts, behaviors, and emotions, directly or indirectly influencing our sexual drive and desire.
Even if we consider the most “stereotypical” symptom - distractability -, we can already see how lack of focus in the bedroom may make the affair appear unexciting and boring to the ADHDer and their partner.
But then you get into more complex and nuanced ADHD symptoms, such as rejection-sensitive dysphoria, when a person experiences rejection as if it were strong physical pain. Naturally, such a strong reaction will influence a person’s attitude towards sex.
They can either abstain entirely, as they will be too paralyzed by the thought of being rejected in their pursuits. Or, such an individual would instead pursue sex and sex alone, eschewing emotional connection for the same reasons - fear of becoming attached and rejected.
All in all, ADHD is a thing that impacts all aspects of our lives, so it perhaps would be stranger if sex were an odd one out here.
Now that we have laid the foundation let’s look at how ADHD can lead into two avenues: hyper- and hyposexuality.
[ADHD Hyposexuality] Hyposexuality: ADHD and Low Sex Drive
No, that’s not an attraction to large African herbivores. That would be hipposexuality 🤓 🦛
In any case, hyposexuality is when a person has a low sex drive, lack of desire, or willingness to have sex.
Now, how can ADHD reduce your libido?
As anyone taking long-term medication would know, meds tend to fix one thing and then ruin a few others.
While taking ADHD meds is beneficial for treating the main issue, it can also lead to unwanted side effects. For instance, methylphenidate, better known as Ritalin and Concerta, has been reported to cause erectile dysfunction (ED).1
We can also look at some of ADHD’s comorbidities, such as depression. Antidepressants are unfortunately infamous for their ability to influence one’s libido, arousal, and capability to experience orgasm2 - all of which make having sex a desirable prospect.
Hypersensitivity is another unexpected ADHD symptom, yet its influence on sexual desire is more than obvious.
Basically, a hypersensitive person might have a strong aversion towards particular smells, sounds, or textures to the point of revulsion. And, suffice, sexual intercourse is a very bountiful avenue to experience very particular smells, sounds, and textures.
Distractability and Inattentiveness
Being a bit “not quite there” can be bad inside and outside the bedroom.
During intercourse, a lack of concentration can make understanding your partner’s wishes difficult and a bit tricky to experience pleasure yourself.
So it just makes it a bit of a sad affair where nobody is happy, and enthusiasm is non-existent, which makes sex not something you’re going to look forward to.
And then there are also issues outside of the bedroom. If an ADHDer and a partner are living together, it can happen that a neurotypical partner will have to handle more responsibilities and chores as ADHDers might tend to forget or postpone those “adult” things. The ensuing resentment and exhaustion can decrease the desire and willingness to be intimate.
Granted, the last point is unrelated to homosexuality per se, but I still thought it was worth mentioning.
Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria
As I’ve mentioned, RSD can discourage ADHDers from pursuing any kind of intimacy whatsoever. Be it of emotional or physical variety, intimacy requires us to be vulnerable; some people just aren’t ready to risk being hurt.
Especially when RSD makes it quite a painful proposition, quite literally.
So, ADHDers might just lose interest in interpersonal relationships altogether, which can make sex an uninteresting prospect.
[ADHD Hypersexuality] Hypersexuality: ADHD and Sex Addiction
On the other hand, there is hypersexuality, which ADHD, too, can cause.
So you might be wondering how one condition can cause such diametrically opposite reactions, and I can only say that ADHD contains multitudes.
It’s not just a disorder about lack of attention or hyperactivity, it’s a lot more complex than that. Did you know that women often have completely different ADHD symptoms than men? However, because early studies on ADHD focused mostly on male-dominant symptoms, it gained this stereotypical image that we have to contend with today.
But I digress. Let’s focus on ADHD quirks that can lead to hypersexuality.
I sometimes feel that if I ever become nobility, “Act first, think second, regret third” will be a family motto on my coat of arms.
ADHDers have impulse control issues, making it easy to indulge in things that we probably shouldn’t. Sex is all about instincts and immediate desires, it is a primary biological directive of all organisms, after all.
So horny ADHDer is more keen to act on their desires, which means they might indulge more often than not.
Compounding Risky Behaviors
While for some ADHDers, hypersexuality might be the goal and the outcome, for others, it’s only an interesting side-effect.
You see, ADHDers tend to become easily obsessed with things we shouldn’t be, like alcohol and other intoxicating substances.
And where’s copious alcohol consumption, there’s casual sex with people you may barely know.4
Stimulation and Dopamines
What do we know about sex? That it feels good and releases a bunch of dopamines.
What do we know about ADHDers? That they really, really, really need their dopamines.
Get their idea?
Yes, sometimes hypersexuality in ADHDers isn’t a sign of anything concerning but just a byproduct of trying to do a “feels good” thing as much as possible5.
Well, as long as it doesn’t interfere with daily functioning, I suppose? 🤷
Living with ADHD can be quite a hectic ordeal. It’s not uncommon for ADHD to cause burnout, where we feel absolutely awful and miserable. And sex is often the reliable and consistent way to feel good, making it the prime candidate for the stress-relief tool.
Important Perspective on ADHD and Sexuality
The important thing to remember about both hyper and hyposexuality is that there isn’t a singular correct attitude towards sex.
It’s perfectly fine if you’ve never had sex and have no desire. It’s also normal to feel very into it and make it your favorite pastime.
The problems only arise when there’s a dissonance between the desires and reality when you’re craving intimacy but are too afraid. Or when you realize that its abundance disrupts your daily life.
So, what can we do about it? Let’s look at some of the common scenarios and solutions to them.
[ADHD Sexuality Strategies] Solutions to the ADHD-related Sexuality Problems
For the Hyposexuality
Whether it’s because of ADHD medication or antidepressants, medication can influence our bodies in unexpected ways. But it’s also true that not all medication is made equal, and there can be alternatives to the one you’re currently taking.
If you’re confident that the medication causes your libido issues, consider reaching out to your healthcare provider for an adjustment in treatment.
Reduce the distractions
If you’re noticing that you’re getting too distracted in the bedroom, maybe it’s a sign of overstimulation, meaning you should rest most of your senses. So, consider turning the lights off, make sure there are no strong smells you can latch on, and that there is no noise or loud music. Doing so allows you to focus only on your partner, which can solve the issues with distractions.
Focus on the process, not the result
There is no need to be results-oriented. There is no competitive sex…yet 🤯
At the end of the day, it’s all about making yourself and your partner feel good, and there are plenty of ways to do that without rushing to the climax. So, spending more time in the moment and being there for each other can feel as meaningful and satisfying as anything else.
Communication is key
I can’t fully blame people who don’t understand that ADHD isn’t just a behavioral issue but one related to how our brains function. Even if it’s our family and loved ones, conversations about the specifics of our condition must be explicit.
So, whether the issue is with you getting distracted in the bedroom or outside of it, don’t hesitate to sit down and have an honest heart-to-heart.
Explain to your partner that your inattention is not out of spite or lack of interest, but it’s not something that you can always control. From there, you can learn how to communicate needs better and distribute responsibilities.
But remember that ADHD is not an excuse not to do better. So you will still need to put in effort to fulfill your promises.
For the Hypersexuality
Pursue other hobbies and activities
If you realize that sex, for you, is just an answer to the question of getting more dopamine, then it may be worthwhile to explore other avenues into which you can channel your energy.
Remember that the goal here is to feel good, and how we get there is subjective…that’s pretty much like sex, isn’t it?
It can be anything from creative outlets like music, dancing, or painting - something that gives you the satisfaction of “finishing” something. Or it can be something similarly physical, like cardio or lifting weights.
Consider professional help from a counselor
Again, I’d like to stress that there is nothing inherently wrong with a high sex drive if it doesn’t interfere with other aspects of your life. However, if you sincerely feel like your libido prevents you from normal daily functioning or you realize that you’re using it as an escape mechanism, then it might be worthwhile to consider therapy.
A professional therapist who specializes in hypersexuality cases may not only teach you coping mechanisms to help you control your urges, but they can also help you figure out the underlying reasons for your uncontrollable sex drive.
Practice safe sex
On the other side, maybe you’re completely fine with being sexually active. And, hey, more power to you!
But in the pursuit of pleasure, don’t forget about safety. Especially since you’re ADHDer and are already prone to forgetting things, whether it’s protection or birth control, ensure that both are always right where they should be.
Numo: ADHD App
I will be completely honest with you. The thought of sharing the most intimate details of my life with strangers on the Internet can, at times, feel intimidating. But if I ever were to consider such an avenue, it would be with people who can relate to my experiences.
And this idea of mutual vulnerability is how Numo came to be. As I got diagnosed with ADHD quite late, I wondered if things would have come out differently if I had someone on a similar wavelength to talk to. With Numo, we’re trying to create a hub of fellow ADHDers who can be your confidants, friends, and cheerleaders.
So if you want to talk - and it doesn’t have to be about sex, we’re not always horny - then come join us!
And if that’s not enough to convince you, how about we sweeten the deal? 😏
After all, Numo isn’t like your other ADHD apps. 💅 It’s your one-stop for all ADHD needs.
- ADHD Planner: If you are committing to be better and to beat forgetfulness, then an ADHD planner will certainly be a valuable tool in your arsenal. Designed with ADHDers in mind, our planner is easy to set up and use and also comes with a game-like reward system to trick that brain goo into generating dopiminis.
- Noise Generator: Anecdotal and scientific evidence suggests that listening to static noise can help us when distracted or overstimulated. Some ADHDers claim it’s like a hack to gain focus, although YMMV. While we’re not suggesting you use it as a soundtrack for your fun bedroom adventures, it will certainly be useful for mundane things.
- Knowledge Library: And if you like reading, then, boy, do we have plenty of that. We frequently share strategies, life hacks, and coping techniques to make you the ADHD master.
…aaaaaand. That’s pretty much it (at least for now 👀).
So, if that sounds like something you’re missing in your life, then come along! We’ve got cats. 🐈
Right, so what have we learned today about sex and ADHD?
- ADHD’s symptoms, such as forgetfulness, RSD, hypersensitivity, and emotional dysregulation, can impact the quality and quantity of intimacy.
- Because everyone experiences ADHD differently, it can lead both to hypo- and hypersexual tendencies
- Effects of medication, hypersensitivity, and RSD can make an ADHDer hyposexual.
- Conversely, impulsivity, risky behaviors, and pursuit of stimulating activities can make ADHDers develop hypersexuality.
- In both circumstances, it’s important to treat the root core of the problem rather than trying to brute force your libido. For example, if you believe your libido changes are because of medication, consider talking with your healthcare provider to try different drugs or dosages.
And, sorry for sounding like a broken record, but sometimes there’s nothing to fix about your sexual drive. Remember, these tips and suggestions exist only when you feel dissonance between what you want and what you have. So don’t try to conform to any expectations imposed on you!
1 PMC. Use of Methylphenidate in Coexisting Major Depression, Loss of Libido and Erectile Dysfunction
3 European Psychiatry. Atypical sensory profiles as core features of adult ADHD, irrespective of autistic symptoms
4 Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry. ADHD and risky sexual behavior in adolescents: Conduct problems and substance use as mediators of risk.
5 Journal of Child and Family Studies. Life With a Partner with ADHD: The Moderating Role of Intimacy.