OCD Living With OCD How to Cope With OCD and Sexual Dysfunction By Owen Kelly, PhD Owen Kelly, PhD Owen Kelly, PhD, is a clinical psychologist, professor, and author in Ontario, ON, who specializes in anxiety and mood disorders. Learn about our editorial process Updated on September 13, 2020 Medically reviewed Verywell Mind articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and mental healthcare professionals. Medical Reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more. by Steven Gans, MD Medically reviewed by Steven Gans, MD Steven Gans, MD is board-certified in psychiatry and is an active supervisor, teacher, and mentor at Massachusetts General Hospital. Learn about our Medical Review Board Print Frederic Cirou / Getty Images If you have OCD, you know that it can be difficult to establish and maintain an intimate relationship. A major barrier for many people with OCD engaging in a romantic relationship is problems related to sexual functioning. The Link Between OCD and Sexual Dysfunction For many people, one of the key ingredients required for a healthy romantic relationship is an active sex life. Although sexual problems are relatively common, research suggests that people with OCD report higher than average levels of problems with sexual functioning. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for people with OCD to experience: Trouble becoming sexually aroused A low sex drive Dissatisfaction with their sexual partner A fear of having sex High levels of disgust when thinking about sexual activities. Feelings of disgust may be particularly severe if you experience obsessions related to contamination (e.g., germs contained within bodily secretions), sexual violence (e.g., rape, molestation), or religion (e.g., sinful or prohibited sexual behavior). Although sexual difficulties in people with OCD and other anxiety disorders have often been chalked up to side-effects of serotonin reuptake inhibitors (which are commonly known to have sexual side effects), research suggests that these problems run deeper than a simple problem with medication and likely reflect larger problems with interpersonal functioning, self-esteem and/or specific obsessions related to sex. Women with OCD may be particularly affected by problems with sexual functioning. In comparison to men with OCD, women with OCD are often more sexually avoidant and may have greater difficulty reaching orgasm. How OCD "Contaminated" My Relationships Tips to Cope With Sexual Dysfunction If You Have OCD The first step towards revitalizing your sex life is to get proper treatment that will allow you to better manage your symptoms; especially if you are experiencing obsessions related to contamination or sexual violence. Although not all treatments work for everyone, there are a variety of pharmaceutical and psychotherapeutic options that can provide relief of your symptoms. If you are already currently receiving treatment but still experiencing sexual difficulties, it may be time to discuss other options. Here are a few tips to cope with sexual dysfunction if you have OCD. Treatment Options for OCD Tell Your Treatment Provider As embarrassing as it can be, if you are experiencing sexual difficulties, it can often be very helpful to inform your doctor. Some sexual difficulties can be caused by underlying health problems or by medication, and it is important that these be ruled out before seeking out OCD-specific treatment options. Get Your Partner Involved If you are currently engaged in a sexual relationship, it may be helpful to engage your partner in treatment. The more your partner understands your symptoms, the more you will be able to trust one another. Not being aware of the challenges you are facing could lead to misunderstandings (like "he/she doesn't find me attractive anymore") that get in the way of building intimacy and trust - the basis of any healthy sexual relationship. Joint a Support Group Community support groups for OCD can be excellent sources of social support and provide an opportunity to hear how others are dealing with feelings of isolation or embarrassment caused by sexual difficulties. Living Well with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder Sources Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. Aksaray G, Yelken B, Kaptanoğlu C, Oflu S, Ozaltin M. Sexuality in women with obsessive compulsive disorder. J Sex Marital Ther. 2001;27(3):273-7. doi:10.1080/009262301750257128 Vulink NC, Denys D, Bus L, Westenberg HG. Sexual pleasure in women with obsessive-compulsive disorder?. J Affect Disord. 2006;91(1):19-25. doI:10.1016/j.jad.2005.12.006 By Owen Kelly, PhD Owen Kelly, PhD, is a clinical psychologist, professor, and author in Ontario, ON, who specializes in anxiety and mood disorders. See Our Editorial Process Meet Our Review Board Share Feedback Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! What is your feedback? Other Helpful Report an Error Submit Speak to a Therapist for OCD Advertiser Disclosure × The offers that appear in this table are from partnerships from which Verywell Mind receives compensation.