Sexual Anorexia: Why Having Too Little Sex Is A Real Disorder

Who knew?

Sexual Anorexia: Why Having Too Little Sex Is A Real Disorder FXQuadro / Shutterstock

Can you compare our desire for sexual intimacy to, say, our need for food? And if so, is sexual anorexia the opposite of sex addiction?

Believe it or not, even though "lack of sex" isn't an official cause of death, experts are divided on this issue. The question popped up in the New York Times when a reader asked whether willingly "starving yourself" with too little sex is a real disorder, not just something that happens when you're too depressed to leave your house.


The reader said, "It strikes me that having little or no sex, denial of eroticism, placing life-curbing restrictions on sex or sex partners should be considered just as much of a problem as too much sex."

Dr. Drew Pinsky of VH1's Sex Rehab With Dr. Drew chimed in that, yes, so-called "sexual anorexia" is a real and serious problem.

It's the flip side of sexual addiction, in fact.

"Many times patients with sexual addictions and compulsions will have a 'bipolar' swing to their sexual desire, in which they may move between periods of intense sexual activity followed by periods of sexual anorexia," Pinsky said.


Pinsky says there's no direct biological or medical explanation for the symptoms of sexual anorexia, but "certain medications, the recent delivery of a child, breast-feeding, and perimenopause or menopause are terribly common culprits and have medical treatments."

RELATED: 10 Things That Happen To Your Body When You Stop Having Sex

So at what point does a compulsion become an actual medical problem? After all, this is the country that declared "binge-shopping" a disorder.


Am I sick for really liking Diet Coke? Can sexual anorexia credibly be called a medical disorder the way real anorexia obviously is?

Internationally renowned sex coach Dr. Trina Read thinks not.

"There is no scientific or empirical evidence to prove that there's such a thing as sex addiction," she said. In other words, there's no such thing as "normal" when it comes to the frequency of having sex.

Ladies should also dispel the notion that "sexual anorexia" is what's ailing them if they haven't had sex for months or even years.

While men are biologically predisposed to ejaculate every 24 to 48 hours, the longer a woman goes without sex, the less she needs it. So long as you're cool with that ... well, that's cool.


RELATED: No Sex For Years: What's It's Really Like To Be Celibate By Choice

Another expert pointed out that Dr. Drew may even be using the term "sexual anorexia" incorrectly. 

Dr. Ava Cadell, a clinical sexologist and loveologist to Hollywood stars, says the correct definition of "sexual anorexia" is a disorder experienced by "people who prefer to fantasize and have sex with others rather than their partner." In other words, they "starve" their partner sexually and "binge" with someone else.

The actual flip side of a sex addict is someone who's asexual, not somebody with sexual anorexia.

The conclusion seems to be that if you're having more or less sex than you're comfortable with, and this dearth or excess is causing problems for your own well-being or in your relationships, you might want to investigate further.


And professionals can definitely help.

RELATED: Why Won't He Sleep With Me? 14 Reasons Your Boyfriend Or Husband Isn't Having Sex With You

Monica Green is a New York-based writer who has contributed to Good Housekeeping, The Knot, and Bustle, among others.