How ADHD Can Affect Your Sex Life

There are many ways that attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) can affect your sex life. If you live with ADHD, you might notice that you are hypersensitive to sensory stimulation, making sensual touch feel irritating and even annoying. Or perhaps your level of sexual desire changes drastically from one day to the next.

On the flip side, some people with ADHD have such a high sex drive and need for stimulation and novelty, such as pornography, that it causes problems in a partnership.

People with ADHD may also be prone to sexual risk-taking such as unprotected sex or having multiple sex partners. The disorder is associated with a drop in neurotransmitters, which may lead to these types of impulsive behaviors. 

What to Do If Your Partner Has ADHD

As the partner of someone living with this disorder, you might notice that your partner becomes distracted during intercourse and easily loses focus and interest, which you might interpret as rejection. It's important to understand that ADHD causes trouble concentrating in many areas of life, and sex is often no exception—and it usually has nothing to do with the person's interest in their partner.

Let's not forget—the exaggerated feelings that someone with ADHD may experience, such as anger and frustration, can create feelings of conflict in any romantic relationship, and this conflict can result in difficulties connecting sexually as well.

Tips for Having a Better Sex Life With ADHD 

First and foremost, it's crucial to take ADHD medications as prescribed, and the good news is, many of them don't lower sex drive or sexual desire. In fact, because they increase your ability to focus, they may actually improve your sex life. However, SSRI antidepressants are sometimes prescribed for anxiety and depression, which are common in those with ADHD, and they can indeed lower sex drive. If that is a significant issue or concern, bring it up with your physician. You may be able to lower the dose or switch medications. 

Beyond that, there are several steps you can take to overcome your challenges from ADHD in the bedroom. 

Communication is key. If your ADHD is causing sexual issues, tell your partner that your distraction or other ADHD-driven behaviors are not his or her fault and not a reflection of your level of desire and attraction. Share what you like and what bothers you during foreplay and sex. If you don't like certain smells or lighting, set up your environment in a way that is more comfortable for you. If you don't enjoy certain positions or types of sex, tell your partner what you prefer. If your partner has ADHD, encourage him or her to openly share with you and listen without judgment. 

Get rid of distractions. Since it can be hard enough to stay engaged during intercourse, eliminate anything around you that might cause you to lose focus, such as the television. You might also practice releasing the stresses of the day through meditation, yoga, or journaling before getting under the sheets with your partner, to get ahead of any worries on your mind.

Seek the health of a qualified sex therapist or mental health professional. Many couples dealing with ADHD benefit from talk therapy and counseling to improve their sex lives. It helps open the lines of communication and bring clarity to misunderstandings and arguments, leading to more intimacy and, by extension, better sex. 

By Keath Low
 Keath Low, MA, is a therapist and clinical scientist with the Carolina Institute for Developmental Disabilities at the University of North Carolina. She specializes in treatment of ADD/ADHD.