The amount of Americans struggling to control their sexual urges might be higher than you expect, a new study says.
Researchers estimated in the past that up to 6 percent of Americans struggle with unwanted sexual desires, although it could be as low as just 2 percent, according to The Star Tribune. But Janna Dickenson, a human sexuality researcher at the University of Minnesota, says a newly-published study she authored found “a much higher prevalence” of distress from sexual urges than once thought.
Just over 10 percent of men in the U.S. struggle to control sexual impulses, while 7 percent of women deal with the same issue, according to the new study, which was published Friday in the journal JAMA Open Network.
The study calls it a “significant clinical problem that warrants attention from health care professionals.”
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To reach their findings, researchers sampled 2,325 U.S. adults who took place in the National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior, the study says. Along with a proportionate split of men and women, the study took from all 50 states and those ages 18 to 50.
The subjects’ answers were analyzed using the Compulsive Sexual Behavior Inventory–13, which gives a person a score after they answer questions such as “how often have you made pledges or promises to change or alter your sexual behavior,” according to NBC.
Those who scored 35 or higher on the questionnaire — which had a scale of 0 to 65 — experience “clinically relevant levels” of stress and impairment, according to the study. That is also known as compulsive sexual behavior disorder.
The disorder is described as “a persistent pattern of failure to control intense, repetitive sexual urges, which results in repetitive sexual behavior that causes marked distress or social impairment,” according to the study.
“Such distress and impairment includes neglecting social activities or personal health, repeatedly attempting to control sexual behavior unsuccessfully,” the study says, “and continuing to engage in sexual behavior despite adverse consequences or even when the individual derives minimal pleasure from his or her sexual activities.”
Along with the high amount of people who struggle with sexual disorders, the researchers say they are also surprised with the number of women who have the problem. Of those estimated Americans struggling with sexual impulses, 40 percent of them are women.
“These results prompt us to thoughtfully consider our assumptions and biases about gender and sexuality and how they can contribute to sexual health concerns,” Dickenson said, according to Newsweek. “More research needs to be done to determine whether women’s distress about their sexual urges and behaviors is comparable to the distress that men feel about their sexual urges and behaviors.”