ADHD And Your Sex Life

If you have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), you still can have happy relationships and a healthy sex life. But it's important to know that ADHD can be a factor in intimacy and communication problems.

Ways ADHD Can Affect Your Sex Life

  • You can have trouble paying attention during sex. Your mind might wander during foreplay, cuddling, or sex. That may seem normal to you. But your partner may misinterpret it as lack of interest.
  • Your mood or desires may change suddenly. One day you might like cuddling or a certain sex act. The next day, the same thing might bother you. 
  • Feelings like anger and loneliness may make you less interested in sex. These feelings may also cause communication issues between you and your partner.
  • You may be drawn toward risky behaviors, like unprotected sex. ADHD may lower levels of certain brain chemicals called neurotransmitters. This may make you more prone to risky or impulsive actions.
  • You may like to have different sex partners. This can make it harder to keep a long-term relationship and increase the odds of risky sex.

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What You Can Do

  • Be open with your partner about your ADHD symptoms, such as trouble focusing and irritability. Reassure your partner these aren't her fault.
  • Say what feels good for you. If you don't enjoy being touched all the time, tell your partner when and how to touch you. This can prevent miscommunication and arguments.
  • Get rid of distractions. If you easily lose focus during sex, avoid attention grabbers like the TV or radio. Having sex in the dark may help youfocus on the moment with your partner.
  • Take your medication as prescribed. Most ADHD drugs don't hurt sex drive. They instead may improve your ability to focus and to enjoy sex. If you take stimulant medications for your ADHD, the effects may wear off by day's end. If you're less likely to enjoy sex once it wears off, try being intimate earlier in the day. 
  • Focus on intimacy, not sex. Having trouble focusing can make it harder for you to get aroused or achieve orgasm. Spend time on kissing, foreplay, and other acts besides intercourse. This can lessen the pressure and help you and your partner enjoy yourselves.
  • Stay active. Regular exercise can improve your ability to focus and raise levels of feel-good brain chemicals such as dopamine. That can help you enjoy intimacy more, and may make you less likely to engage in risky sexual behaviors.
  • Consider talk therapy. Seeing your doctor is important. But a mental health therapist, such as a psychologist or licensed social worker, also can help. Research shows that talk therapy can help ease ADHD symptoms that affect your sex life. A therapist can also help you better communicate with your partner in and out of bed.
WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Smitha Bhandari, MD on April 20, 2017

Sources

SOURCES:

College of Applied Health Sciences at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign: "ADHD and Sex."

Stephanie Sarkis, PhD, mental health counselor and author of Adult ADHD: A Guide For the Newly-Diagnosed.

Jon Belford, PsyD, clinical psychologist specializing in ADHD.

Journal of Child and Family Studies: "Life with a Partner with ADHD: The Moderating Role of Intimacy."

CDC: "Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder: Other Concerns & Conditions."

Clinical Neurophysiology: "Effects of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy on neurophysiological correlates of performance monitoring in adult attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder."

Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology: "A Randomized Trial Examining the Effects of Aerobic Physical Activity on Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder Symptoms in Young Children."

Current Psychiatry Reports: "Emerging Support for a Role of Exercise in Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder Intervention Planning."

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