ADHD and Your Sex Life

Medically Reviewed by Smitha Bhandari, MD on March 31, 2020

If you have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), it can cause problems with intimacy and lead to some communication problems.

How 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 see 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 things might bother you. 
  • Feelings like anger and loneliness may make you less interested in sex. They may also cause communication issues between you and your partner.
  • You may be drawn to risky behaviors, like unprotected sex. ADHD can lower levels of certain brain chemicals called neurotransmitters. That may make you more likely to take risks or be impulsive.
  • You may like to have different sex partners. This can make it harder to keep a long-term relationship and raise the chances of risky sex.


What You Can Do


  • Be open with your partner about your ADHD symptoms, such as trouble focusing and irritability. Reassure them it’s not their fault.
  • Say what feels good for you. If you don't like 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, having sex in the dark may help you focus on the moment.
  • Take your medication as prescribed. Some ADHD drugs may boost your ability to focus and enjoy sex, while others can lead to a loss of sexual desire or ability. If that’s the case, talk with your doctor and your partner about it.
  • Focus on intimacy, not sex. Trouble with focus can make it harder for you to get aroused or reach orgasm. Spend time on kissing, foreplay, and other acts besides intercourse. This can ease the pressure and help you and your partner enjoy yourselves.
  • Stay active. Regular exercise can help you 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. 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.


Show Sources


College of Applied Health Sciences, 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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