Sexual anorexia refers to people who may suffer in silence within intimate relationships because they literally self-starve themselves toward sexual behavior. As the research field related to sexual addiction, sexual compulsivity and hypersexuality continues to widen, complex conditions like sexual anorexia are becoming a part of professional treatment that can help people resume satisfying sexual relationships. The factors related to sexual anorexia are similar to those related to sex addiction:
- Repeated negative feelings toward sex, due to shame, past abuse or self-esteem problems with body image or sexual ability
- Ongoing thoughts about sex or sexually related activities, but framed in a context of negativity, fear or poor self-esteem
- A sense of anger, shame or sadness regarding sexual encounters from the person’s past – especially if abuse has been present
- Carrying out self-harming behavior or avoidance measures to prevent sex from taking place
Not only does sexual anorexia have similar underlying factors as sexual addiction, it can also be present in conjunction with other behaviors like compulsive overeating. Experts addressing the subject in recent articles believe some people with this condition are not even cognizant that they are experiencing abnormal reactions to sex. Contrasting its name, some people with sexual anorexia may act out intensely in a sexual manner during a period of several weeks or months – in a sense, “binging” on sexual activity, but then entering a starvation mode from it. During these periods of high sexual activity, they may exhibit symptoms of sexual addiction, such as sex with multiple partners or sex in inappropriate places, and then return to a “starvation” mode. Left undiagnosed, sexual anorexia can be a factor in serious, ongoing relationship problems and linked with substance abuse or depression. Treatment and recovery from sexual anorexia and sexual addiction are possible with the assistance of specially-trained mental health professionals and addiction experts.