Is OCD spoiling your sex life?

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Is OCD spoiling your sex life?

Anyone with the 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 fear of dirt or contamination by germs, to need for order, symmetry, or exactness, to repeatedly bathing, showering, or washing their hands, OCD can literally 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 then the struggle to maintain and nurture the relationship to boot.  Those with OCD especially have a tough time in establishing and keeping an intimate connection going.  A major 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 which could include fear of contamination of germs, bodily fluids, sexual violence, or believing having sex is immoral.

Generally, women with OCD are especially affected by these problems affecting their sexual functioning.  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 are often prescribed selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) helping them 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 medications for controlling their OCD are not totally to be blamed on their underperforming sex life.  There are often other problems stemming from things such as 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 better equip themselves to cope with sexual dysfunction:

·      Gain control of your symptoms

An important first step in reducing OCD symptoms and revitalizing your sex life is to seek treatment for them.  OCD does not go away by itself.  The most effective approach to treating 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 to learn how to confront their fears and reduce anxiety without resorting to the ritual behaviors.  This type of therapy also focuses on reducing the exaggerated or catastrophic thinking which often occurs in people with OCD. 

·      If medications and cognitive behavioral therapy doesn’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.  Keep in mind, just because you may have OCD does not automatically mean a poor sex life is directly related to that.  It could be caused by an underlying health problem that must be ruled out with a physical exam.

·      Make sure your partner is aware of your issues

Most likely a partner you are currently involved with will know of your OCD tendencies.  But if you are trying to keep it secret, don’t.  Trust your partner enough to help them understand the challenge you face and why that 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.  Being able to open 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.