It is still rare for doctors to consider, much less discuss, the sexual impacts of mental health diagnoses. When I giving trainings for therapists and healthcare providers, I always remind them that sexuality entwines with all aspects of health. Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder can affect an adult’s sexuality in many ways that can be addressed and often relieved. If we talk about it.
Shifting – For most adults, getting into the mindset for sex takes some conscious shifting out of the day to day distractions. For people with ADHD, shifting focus from one activity or mindset to the next can be particularly challenging. Learning to give themselves time to mentally stop what they are doing and re-adjust to a new sensual focus is important. Scheduling sex ahead of time can be helpful as it provides some structure.
Focusing – Difficulty focusing is a key feature of many people’s experience of ADHD. And sex is better with focused attention. Working with ADHD means working to reduce distractibility and refining the ability to pay attention to something, or someone, who interests you. Distractions during sex can increase the possibility of early ejaculation and erection difficulties, difficulty reaching orgasm, or feeling connected to your partners. Happily, learning to increase focus during sex will enhance the pleasure potential and make for a more intense experience.
Overstimulation – For some people with ADHD, life in general feels over-stimulating to the point of discomfort, including sex. For them, learning to relax and decrease the mental racing that can go along with high stimulation is important. Slowing down interactions and possibly taking breaks to close your eyes and breath. Being sure to focus on the present moment sensation, rather than on what to do next will also help with this. Sex is plenty stimulating; it is perfectly ok to go slow and really take it in.
Control – Sometimes ADHD can cause people to feel out of control with thoughts speeding ahead to places they don’t always choose or returning constantly to the same topic. Combined with all the sexual stimulation available, this can develop into sexual compulsivity or obsessive behavior with struggles to turn down sexual desire, even when it is creating consequences. An intense sexual drive can cause real conflicts in relationships where one partner simply can’t accommodate high levels of sexual activity. Working with the ability to re-channel thoughts, reduce anxiety, and find various balanced outlets for sexual energy can being more sense of control and empowerment.
These are just some common sexual impacts related to ADHD. Of course, relationship dynamics are affected as well which adds to the sexual dynamics. If you or someone you love is seeking support for ADHD, encourage them to find someone who will include sexuality as part of the conversation.