Original Paper

Archives of Sexual Behavior

, Volume 39, Issue 5, pp 1029-1043

First online:

Dysregulated Sexuality and High Sexual Desire: Distinct Constructs?

  • Jason WintersAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, University of British ColumbiaBritish Columbia Provincial Health Services Authority, Forensic Psychiatric Services Commission Email author 
  • , Kalina ChristoffAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, University of British Columbia
  • , Boris B. GorzalkaAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, University of British Columbia

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The literature on dysregulated sexuality, whether theoretical, clinical or empirical, has failed to differentiate the construct from high sexual desire. In this study, we tested three hypotheses which addressed this issue. A sample of 6458 men and 7938 women, some of whom had sought treatment for sexual compulsivity, addiction or impulsivity, completed an online survey comprised of various sexuality measures. Men and women who reported having sought treatment scored significantly higher on measures of dysregulated sexuality and sexual desire. For men, women, and those who had sought treatment, dysregulated sexuality was associated with increased sexual desire. Confirmatory factor analysis supported a one-factor model, indicating that, in both male and female participants, dysregulated sexuality and sexual desire variables loaded onto a single underlying factor. The results of this study suggest that dysregulated sexuality, as currently conceptualized, labelled, and measured, may simply be a marker of high sexual desire and the distress associated with managing a high degree of sexual thoughts, feelings, and needs.


Dysregulated sexuality Sexual compulsivity Hypersexuality Sexual desire Sexual addiction Sexual behaviour Sexual control