ADHD and Sex – Balance Between Obsession and Many Distractions

Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, ADHD, causes a range of symptoms like being distracted, impulsive and unorganised. However, a life with an ADHD brain comes with much more than the well known general list of symptoms. Although ADHD presents itself differently in each brain, the struggles never limit themselves to the inability to sit still. I believe I can speak for every ADHD brain out there when I say ADHD affects everything in life, personality, household, education, career, relationships and also sex.

Dopamine & Distractions

According to my personal experience, there are two ways in which ADHD mainly affects sex: dopamine and distractions. ADHD brains struggle with both of them, we are easily distracted in everything we do and unfortunately, this does not stop when we enter our bedroom, to be completely honest, my bed is often the place where the devil’s chaos grows strongest, the place where I can loose complete control over the thoughts that appear inside my mind. Making sex in a bed, late at night when it’s time to sleep, a difficult challenge.

The effect of dopamine is more complex but in short, ADHD devils are always looking for dopamine since they can not manage the levels of this neurotransmitter properly by themselves. In order to feel satisfied, ADHD brains need much more dopamine boosts than an average brain and when ADHD goes untreated, life with the devil can turn into a constant search for dopamine, just to feel a little good.

Motivational Orgasm

The main ingredient for my devil’s dopamine is methylphenidate, but although this might be enough on a good day, many times I need just a little extra to make myself feel satisfied. Things that help me to get to the point of satisfaction are workouts, gaming, challenges, and rewards but also an orgasm is able to give me the dopamine I need to feel good. I know from myself that whenever life gets boring or unrewarding, I start looking for orgasms to provide me with the dopamine I miss.

I think the best way to describe how an ADHD induced dopamine search can relate to orgasms is to talk about the year I graduated. I was working on my thesis alone at home every single day and although I was extremely motivated to do the best I could, working alone at home, 10 to 12 hours a day, 7 days a week, turned out the be extremely boring. In order to keep myself motivated, I started looking for a dopamine source to get me through my days, and I found this in orgasms. So whenever I noticed myself getting a little bored, I would start masturbating and after every orgasm I experienced new energy and focus to keep performing at my best.

Somewhere halfway through that year, I found myself using my vibrator almost every hour. Working on my thesis had become so boring that I needed an extreme amount of dopamine to get through it, but having to buy a pack of 10 batteries almost weekly started to make me feel ashamed of myself, ashamed of my orgasm addiction I believe I had developed. I decided to start working out more, 3 times a day at least and immediately my battery consumptions decreased, I was never addicted to orgasms, it all had to do with dopamine.

Orgasms as a dopamine source still play a role in my daily life. When I wake up in the morning, I like to masturbate because this gives me a positive boost to start the day with. When I find myself procrastinating something that really needs to be done I also turn to my vibrator to provide me with the motivation I need. In a way, orgasms are like an emergency ADHD medication for me, calming down the chaos inside me and boosting my energy, all because of this magical thing called dopamine.

Dopamine & Sex

My motivational orgasms don’t really have much of a connection with sex though, they are more of a quick trick I taught myself to help me dealing with some of my ADHD symptoms, while real sex is something completely different for me. Of course there is a similar release of dopamine during sex, maybe even a stronger one since I notice how my orgasms are more intense, but I don’t use them as a way to motivate myself. This dopamine makes me feel the same amount of clarity inside me, but instead of getting motivated, I get happy and at ease, sex makes my struggles and worries disappear and I just feel like life is good, at least for a while.

Besides, the amount of love I feel after sex is extreme! I am that person that could say “I love you” after having sex just once, and many times I had to prevent myself from doing so. Maybe ADHD brains don’t only need more dopamine, maybe they experience a dopamine rush more intensely as well, maybe a part of the hypersensitivity that often comes with owning an ADHD devil? I believe it is, or otherwise I’m just very emotionally unstable ( which I also am, but let’s stick to the hypersensitivity for now ).

Hypersensitivity

Many people with ADHD experience a physical hypersensitivity to a variety of things, including touch. For me, this means that I experience a touch more intensely, I can get stimulated by the slightest feeling of physical contact and even the feeling of presence of another person is able to arouse me. My hypersensitivity makes me experience sex as an extremely overwhelming experience, in a very pleasant way, I sense a gentle touch throughout my whole self, my body as well as my mind, however, hypersensitivity can also cause struggles during sex.

Stimulation of genitals might be uncomfortable or even painful for other hypersensitive ADHD brains, besides, hypersensitivity does not limit itself to touch, smells and tastes associated with sex might also be able to reduce arousal. As an example, I love giving blowjobs, I love being in charge and I get aroused by my ability to stimulate my boyfriend in this way, however, as soon as I taste even the slightest bit of sperm in my mouth, I panic. Why? No clue. Something about this taste makes me feel repellent to go further, and for a long time, the fear of this taste even made me refuse to start, hypersensitivity can be a bitch sometimes!

Distractions

Besides the hypersensitivity for touch, smell and tastes, there is the overall hypersensitivity for everything that happens around me, the fact that I get distracted by even the slightest bit of sound or movement, or by the thoughts that arise from them. Chaos, hyperactivity, distractions, they all don’t work well with intimacy.

After a busy day at work I can not stop thinking about my to-do list for the next day and even when I’m in the act, these thoughts are able to continue. The same happens with people that pass by the window, neighbours that walk around their apartment, my bunny eating under the bed, a ticking clock or any other kind of sound, I just can not ignore sounds, and with every sound I get a little less aroused. At times I am not in control over my body, when there is too much restless energy inside me, there is no way I can lay still or even prevent my limbs from moving for no reason, and often I need half an hour of running, jumping, dancing, wrestling or any other kind of activity before I am ready to give in to the moment.

I believe the biggest struggle of having sex while there is an ADHD devil inside our brain, is distraction. Making love is about being in the moment, about letting go of everything and just enjoy all the physical sensations that occur. However, ADHD brains aren’t so good in shutting off for a while, the chaos doesn’t just disappear when our bodies are stimulated, and because of this it is often extremely hard to stay aroused or reach an orgasm.

Sex near a bright computer or television screen is impossible, sex while I’m leaving something unfinished in impossible, sex while my neighbours are having a party is impossible and sometimes sex is impossible just because my mind wonders too much and I’m unable to stop solving a puzzle inside my head or I can’t stop counting pink elephants. And then there are the times that suddenly a great idea pops up inside me and I just can not wait till afterwards to tell about it, ruining the mood for myself, as well as my boyfriend.

The worst thing about distractions during sex is that this can occur even while I’m truly horny, when I really want to have sex but some part in my mind is just unable to relax. Too many times I have ruined the moment with my distractions, frustrating myself and making the other person believe that I am not interested in sex, causing annoyance and misunderstanding. Fortunately, me and my boyfriend are great at talking about problems like these and he now understands that when I start mumbling about the dishes when we’re naked, he doesn’t have to listen. He understands that my distractions are not a sign of me not wanting sex and together we are able to calm me down and be in the moment and reach an orgasm.

Medication

It would be perfect if I would be able to have sex during the time that I’m on medication, when my mind is less occupied with chaos and distractions, it would be perfect if my Ritalin would be able to clear my mind, to create the peace I need to be in the moment and reach an orgasm. But unfortunately methylphenidate works in strange ways. While it is true that my medication gives me the ability to focus, it is also true that the minute my pills start working my sex drive plummets and I lose all interest in sexual activity. Between 9 AM and 5 PM I simply just don’t think about sex and nothing is able to arouse me.

Strangely, I know that I am able to have an orgasm while I’m on my medication. My drugged period of the day is even the period I am reaching out to my vibrator the most, the time I feel the most need for a motivational orgasm, but real sex with another person is impossible. And this, I believe, has everything to do with feelings. While my pills are active inside my body, I can not truly laugh, I can not cry, I can not feel empathy, everything, every feeling and emotion, gets numb and with the disappearance of my feeling self goes my sexual desire as well.

Although sex on Ritalin is not an option for me, sticking to my medication does help me to perform better sexually in the night, since Ritalin reduces the overall chaos of the day. The peace that occurs when the pills are active continues in the night and when I take my medication properly each day I will encounter much less distractions overall, maybe because the time of chaos is decreased which reduces the maximum amount of chaos?

Besides real medication, it also helps me to exercise, meditate or do something creative before I have sex. It helps to remove my restless energy and clear my mind before I get naked, I notice how I can truly be in the moment after I have satisfied the needs of the devil inside me and at least for me, this is one of the solutions to truly enjoy sex. Something that also works for me is having a motivational orgasm before I have sex with my boyfriend, I can use the peace that comes from the dopamine rush to enjoy every physical sensation, to truly be in the moment. But for this one, it is important to talk to your sexual partner about this because it might seem weird.

Love & Sex

I am not sure if it is because of my ADHD, because I have been raped or because I’m just a bit strange, but there is a big difference between sex and love for me, or at least, between orgasms and love, between the search for dopamine and the act of making love. For me, sex does not always has to be about making love, sex can be about motivation, about feeling better or about trying to feel connected, without experiencing any feelings of love.

Until about a few years ago I actually never made love, I never had sex because I loved the person I was intimate with, instead, I used sex to hurt myself, to reach out for help or to make my dark days just a little less scary. What I can say now is that I should have used my vibrator all the times I had sex with someone I did not really connect with, simply because sex with someone I wasn’t truly connected with never gave me a real orgasm, it always made me feel used and dirty and it never gave me the feeling I was searching for.

On the other hand, I have been in love with a person I did not have sex with, simply because the time we spend together was focused on other things and sex was something I just never really thought about or missed. I believe I was just too occupied with other things and all my sexual desires disappeared without me even noticing. The same happened after my grandpa died, when I just started at my current joy or when I’m working on new friendships or some other kind of fun, when something in my life gets all my attention, I can loose all interest in sex, no matter how much love I feel for the person I should have sex with.

Keep Talking

ADHD brains have trouble focusing, problems managing their attention, problems with self-esteem and problems with impulses and all these things affect sexuality. The effect of the ADHD devil on sexual desire is different for every person and even can change throughout. Some people lose all interest in sex, while others go to the opposite extreme. Some people need to work hard to keep their sex lives interesting, while others easily get overstimulated and need a little time and space. Whatever difficulties they’re facing, people with ADHD can have awesome sex lives — they just need to lean into communication, therapy, and the right treatment.

If you’re suffering with problems in the bedroom (or anywhere else) I can only encourage you to start talking, to open up and start explaining what problems you are experiencing. Be honest about what works for you and what doesn’t, be honest about what holds you back, what makes you insecure or what makes you obsessed. Talking is hard, but once you start, you’ll notice the relieve it comes with, and often it turns out that you’re struggles are easy to solve once your partner knows about them. Have sex with someone who knows you, someone who understands you, someone you can completely be yourself with, because this way, you will be able to enjoy sex as much as any other person, or more, who knows!

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