Anyone with a mental condition called obsessive-compulsive disorder or OCD is all too familiar with the recurrent, persistent thoughts and ritualistic behaviors interfering with their daily lives. From the fear of dirt or contamination by germs, to the need for order, symmetry, or exactness to repeatedly bathing, showering, or washing their hands, OCD can overtake and overwhelm the person who is unfortunate to have it. Let alone how OCD must make their sex life, well, complicated.
OCD and sex
OCD can play havoc on a person’s love life. It’s hard enough to find that special someone and only to struggle to maintain and nurture the relationship to boot. Those with OCD especially have a tough time in establishing and keeping an intimate connection. A significant part of the problem for many with OCD is problems related to sexual functioning.
A big part of a thriving romantic relationship is engaging in an active sex life. Sexual problems can happen even to the best of us, but for people with OCD, those issues are magnified even more so. Here are some common issues those with OCD face when it comes to sex:
- Low sex drive
- Difficulty becoming sexually aroused
- A fear of having sex
- Dissatisfaction with their sexual partner
- Disgusting thoughts about sexual activities could include fear of contamination of germs, bodily fluids, sexual violence, or believing having sex is immoral.
Generally, women with OCD are significantly affected by these problems affecting their sexual functioning. For example, women with OCD are much more likely than men with OCD to have feelings of wanting to avoid sex and have more difficulty in reaching an orgasm.
Coping with sexual dysfunction when you have OCD
Many people with OCD take prescription selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) to deal with their disorder and to prevent it from interfering with their lives. Unfortunately, sometimes this medication can cause sexual side effects disrupting their bedroom activities. But often, the drugs for controlling their OCD are not totally to be blamed on their underperforming sex life. Other problems often stem from things such as a lack of self-esteem, how they function with others, and their overall specific obsessions related to sexual activity.
Here are some ways for people with OCD who are struggling in the bedroom to equip themselves better to cope with sexual dysfunction:
Gain control of your symptoms
An essential first step in reducing OCD symptoms and revitalizing your sex life is seeking treatment. OCD does not go away by itself. One of the best ways to treat OCD is to combine medications with cognitive behavioral therapy:
- Medications for OCD are usually antidepressants such as SSRIs such as Prozac and Zoloft.
- Cognitive behavioral therapy can help teach those with this disorder how to confront their fears and reduce anxiety without resorting to ritual behaviors. This type of therapy shines a spotlight to decrease the overly-exaggerated or catastrophic thinking that often occurs in people with OCD.
- If medications and cognitive behavioral therapy don’t work, then electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) may be used to treat more severe cases of OCD. There is also a newer treatment called deep brain stimulation which implants small electrodes into brain areas connected to the brain circuitry associated with OCD symptoms.
Talk to your doctor
Doctors have heard it all, and telling them about your lack of sexual enjoyment can be a big step towards once and for all getting the sex life you desire. Remember that just because you may have OCD does not automatically mean a poor sex life is directly related to that. It could be from an underlying health problem, and you should get checked by a doctor.
Make sure your partner is aware of your issues
A partner you are currently involved with will likely know of your OCD tendencies. But if you are trying to keep it secret, don’t. Instead, trust your partner enough to help them understand the challenge you face and why it is getting in the way of sexual intimacy.
Join a support group for OCD
Support groups may not be for everyone, but sometimes it’s nice to be around others who completely understand and share the feelings of isolation and embarrassment caused by sexual dysfunction. Opening up honestly, expressing your thoughts, and hearing what others have to say, can be very cathartic and healing in achieving the goal of sexual satisfaction.
Dr. David Samadi is the Director of Men’s Health and Urologic Oncology at St. Francis Hospital in Long Island. He’s a renowned and highly successful board certified Urologic Oncologist Expert and Robotic Surgeon in New York City, regarded as one of the leading prostate surgeons in the U.S., with a vast expertise in prostate cancer treatment and Robotic-Assisted Laparoscopic Prostatectomy. Dr. Samadi is a medical contributor to NewsMax TV and is also the author of The Ultimate MANual, Dr. Samadi’s Guide to Men’s Health and Wellness, available online both on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Visit Dr. Samadi’s websites at robotic oncology and prostate cancer 911.