Idaho, Iowa, Des Moines
December 30, 2023

Exploring the Connection Between ADHD and Sex Drive

There’s a lot going on in the ADHD brain. Differences in executive function abilities can make it difficult to plan, remember, multitask, and focus on the present moment. This can make many aspects of life challenging. What people don’t often realize is that ADHDers also struggle more regularly with sexual experiences. 

Some of my clients have an aha moment when we connect the dots between ADHD and libido. They may have always struggled with sex but never really known why – and they often thought there was something wrong or bad about them. Turns out, sex is just one more area of life impacted by ADHD.

So how exactly does ADHD affect your sexuality, and what can you do about it? Understanding the link between ADHD and sex drive can make a huge difference in helping you feel more connected and more present during sex and in your relationships.

ADHD and the “Orgasm Gap”

The well-known “orgasm gap” between men and women is a problem. The orgasm gap refers to differences in the rates of climax in women vs. men: more than 90% of men regularly achieve orgasm during partnered sex, while only around 50% of women do.

To be clear, there’s nothing wrong with not having an orgasm if you don’t want one. There’s also nothing wrong with not having one every time you have sex. You don’t need to orgasm in order to have pleasurable and connective sexual experiences. However, many women don’t feel they have a choice in the matter. And if you’re a woman with ADHD, your likelihood of achieving orgasm may be even lower. Things like impulsivity, distractibility, sensitivity to sensation, and moodiness all impact a person’s sex life. 

ADHD and libido

Does ADHD Affect Your Libido?

Data from a study on ADHD and sex had several interesting findings on the sexual habits of people with ADHD versus those without ADHD. They found that people with ADHD are more likely to have:

  • Higher preference for same-sex or any-sex partners
  • Higher rates of electronic sexual exchanges (cyber sex)
  • Higher rates of sexually transmitted infections
  • Higher interest in adventurous sex acts
  • Higher chance of engaging in risky sexual behaviors
  • Lower satisfaction with their partners (both sexually and overall)

Overall, women were more likely to have more sexual partners, an earlier onset of sexual activity, less frequent use of contraceptives, and increased likelihood of infidelity behaviors, Other studies have suggested that women with ADHD are more likely to have lower levels of sexual desire, arousal, and orgasms than their non-ADHD counterparts. 

Of course, these studies don’t account for individual behaviors or differences between types of ADHD. However, it’s pretty clear that ADHD does have an impact on libido and sexuality. Depending on you and how ADHD shows up in your life, it may make you more or less likely to take sexual risks, more or less likely to want sex more often, and more or less likely to engage in pleasurable sex. 

6 Ways ADHD Can Impact Your Sex Life

The answer to the question “does ADHD affect libido?” is most likely yes. But how? The following elements of ADHD can affect your sex drive. 

  1. Medications impact libido, desire, and sensation. Certain medications, including antidepressants, can significantly lower or alter sex drive. However, many ADHD medications actually help your sex drive by increasing your focus, which enables you to be more present during sexual acts. 
  2. Emotional ADHD symptoms like moodiness, anxiety, anger and loneliness can greatly impact desire for sex and the quality of your relationships. You also may be more likely to feel burned out as an ADHDer, which lowers libido. 
  3. Masking. As someone with neurodivergence, you may have learned to mask your authentic behaviors in order to fit in with the rest of the world. But a lifetime of masking can cut you off from your real desires and needs. As a result, you may have a more difficult time tapping into your pleasure and communicating what you want to a partner or partners. 
  4. Impulsivity can affect sexual behaviors and make people more likely to engage in risky sexual acts, such as not using protection when it’s needed, or doing something you’re not ready for because it feels good in the moment.  
  5. Hypersensitivity and feeling easily overstimulated are common among ADHDers. The ADHD brain is processing a lot of sensory input all the time at a faster rate than neurotypical brains. When it comes to sex, this can translate to feeling smothered by too much touch or cuddling, as well as being overwhelmed by all the stimulating sensory experiences (touching, kissing, noises, bright lights, etc) that come with sex. 
  6. Difficulty focusing can also impact sex and libido. If you have a hard time focusing on pleasurable sensations, sex may not feel good or be particularly interesting to you. You may zone out easily or feel disconnected from your partner during intimacy. However, some ADHD folks may experience hyperfocus during sex at times, which may enhance their experience. 
Does adhd affect your libido?‍

What to Do About ADHD and Libido Woes

If you’re struggling with problems around ADHD and libido, you’re not alone. The first step is to gain awareness around the relationship between ADHD and sex drive. This can make a big difference in helping you feel better about your issues and more empowered to manage them.

Another thing you can do is talk to your doctor about taking ADHD medications. If your biggest issue is not losing focus or getting distracted during sex, medication may help you. If you aren’t interested in medication, there are cognitive strategies you can employ to be more present in the moment. These include things like learning how to tune into your bodily sensations, communicating with your partner about how you’re feeling and what you need, and setting up your environment to feel less overwhelmed. You can learn strategies like these in cognitive behavioral therapy.

Additionally, it’s important to communicate with your partner or partners about what you need and want around sex. It can be uncomfortable to bring this up in a discussion, but learning to be honest about your challenges and needs is crucial for having more pleasure in sex, being more satisfied with your relationships, and closing your own orgasm gap.

Therapy and Coaching Can Help You Navigate ADHD and Sex Drive

If you want support figuring out how to have a better relationship with ADHD and sex drive, I’m here to help. Together, we’ll work through your challenges with sex and ADHD and help you overcome them. I’ll support you in tapping into your needs and desires, help you come up with strategies to employ during sex to make it more pleasurable, and help you figure out how to communicate about sensitive topics. 

I’m ready if you are. Reach out today to get started.

Meet the author

Danielle Wayne

Danielle is an anxiety therapist and perfectionism coach. She specializes in helping busy millennials dial down their anxiety and ADHD, so they can perform at their best. Danielle has been featured on Apartment Therapy, SparkPeople, Lifewire, and Now Art World. When Danielle isn't helping her clients, she's playing video games or spending time with her partner and step children.

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