Bipolar Disorder and Sex: Let’s Talk About it

bipolar disorder and sex

Mental and Sexual Health Go Hand-in-Hand

Do you have a partner who just can’t keep their hands off you at times and at other times there appears to be nothing you can do to get them going? The sexual drive can be dictated by your mental state. While not every change of heart or mood is caused by bipolar disorder, it is important to pay attention to these changes. Certain symptoms may be more obvious than others once you know what to look for.

How can you tell?

Keep your eye out for patterns. Does it look like your partner goes through a “high” period where they are in a visibly good mood, they are excited about work, their creative juices are flowing, and they are up for absolutely anything? Then, a few weeks later, you may notice that they are withdrawn and spewing negativity.

You may not know it, but these are major signs of bipolar disorder. A person with bipolar disorder has a chemical imbalance in their brain which causes their moods to swing unexpectedly. Their moods fluctuate from incredible highs (referred to as the manic state) to unbearable lows (the depressed state).

Individuals can be diagnosed with two types of bipolar disorder. In Bipolar 1, the manic states are so intense that patients can even begin to hallucinate. Bipolar 2 is much milder and is defined by hypomania, which causes you to feel elated and be hyperactive.

Bipolar Disorder and Sex

An aspect of bipolar disorder that does not get much attention is how it affects the libido of the patient. During bouts of mania or hypomania, bipolar patients experience frequent urges to engage in sexual activity.

Experts explain that bipolar disorder itself does not lead to hyper-sexuality. Rather, it is the “high” that bipolar patients experience that leads to them wanting sex and other pleasurable activities. These activities can be anything — from shopping to gambling, and even drugs. Bipolar manifests differently in each patient, some may become significantly more productive during a manic phase while others will turn to sex to seek pleasure.

This burst of energy causes bipolar patients to indulge in activities that they otherwise will not participate in. This hyper-sexuality often causes them to engage in activities with both genders even if they are not bisexual. The sudden urge to have sex in public is another activity that appeals to people in the midst of mania or hypomania.

Because of the double standards prevalent in our society when it comes to sex and both genders, bipolar women often feel shame after their actions during a manic episode. A manic episode can prove to be a health risk for women as they are more susceptible to STIs than men. They also risk getting pregnant because their desire for pleasure compromises their ability to think responsibly.

During the manic phase, there are bipolar woman who will claim that they can fall in love with someone they barely know while they are having sex.

The Emotional Disconnect

When bipolar patients succumb to their urges, they have to deal with the consequences that follow. A string of one-night-stands may not matter when you’re single, but when hyper-sexuality becomes a problem in relationships or begins interfering in your daily lives it can have devastating repercussions.

The stress of not being able to control your impulses when it comes to sex can lead those affected by the bipolar disorder to commit adultery. They find themselves in impromptu orgies and even spending hours masturbating — affecting their physical and mental health.

Their insatiable hunger for sexual pleasure causes them to seek out extreme and possibly dangerous activities in an attempt to satisfy their needs.

Bipolar patients who have a more liberal approach when it comes to sexuality manage their urges better because they aren’t as concerned about coming across as promiscuous. It’s when patients are in serious relationships that these phases of unstable sexual desires wreak the most havoc.

Even if they aren’t in relationships, hyper-sexuality can become an extreme nuisance to those who aren’t overly sexual by nature. The lack of self-control during a manic period makes people who are usually composed and measured very uneasy.

The Depressive Lows

Hyper-sexuality is only half the problem when it comes to bipolarism and sex. After the uncontrollable overly sexual period comes the depressive lows — the extreme opposite. As their mood takes a dive during the depressive state, so does their libido.

Bipolar patients who would jump on their partners without hesitating in a manic episode will shun them during a depressive low. Either way, whether it is in the depressive state or the manic state, bipolar patients should stop turning to sex as a form of self-medicating.

One-night stands and other rash sexual behaviors can lead to self-loathing in the long run. There are cases of patients who resort to self-harm due to their actions during a depressive or manic state. Sufferers will have to find other methods of obtaining their “high” in their manic state and pull them out of their depressive lows.

The Frustrated Partnersbipolar disorder, mental health, wellness

Inconsistency in sexual desires does not just involve one person, especially when you’re in a relationship. Dealing with the ups and downs of a partner with bipolar disorder can be aggravating for several reasons.

Being affectionate, in general, can prove to be difficult when sufferers are undergoing a depressive low. Intimacy holds a lot of emotional baggage. Anything that interferes with intimacy between both partners is bound to burden the relationship.

Naturally, when one partner refuses sex, it has a direct impact on the other. Mismatched libidos can cause serious problems in relationships, especially when bipolarism plays a part. People feel unwanted when their partners refuse to touch them for several weeks. At the same time, over-sexual behavior during a manic episode isn’t healthy for a relationship either.

Mood Management

Psychologists suggest that patients keep track of their changing moods so they are better prepared for managing them. Patients who have been feeling balanced should take note of when their moods begin to fluctuate and the sort of urges they feel. Feeling unusual needs to engage in impulsive sexual behavior, do a lot of work and be productive, or just go on a shopping spree can be indicators.

The key is to find the healthiest and most effective solution. Doctors believe that referring to this list can help patients make better decisions. For example, a woman can make wiser choices about the sort of contraceptives they are using. Long-term solutions like coils and contraceptive implants are a better option for women who are significantly more sexually active than others.

Dealing with Hyper-Sexuality

Even though hyper-sexuality is a common factor amongst people that are bipolar, not all bipolar people struggle with it. There are bipolar people out there who believe that the concept of hyper-sexuality among the bipolar community is over-exaggerated. According to them, continuous use of proper medication should keep their mood balanced and make their urges easy to control.

Those who do have a problem with hyper-sexuality will have to learn to control it. This involves limiting triggers. If you get tempted by erotic visuals or pop-up ads on your laptop, remove them from your site so you do not get triggered as easily. There are programs that can help you do this.

Contact your medical professionals when you do find your mood fluctuating; they may be able to help with medication and therapy.

Sufferers of bipolar disorder can turn to activities to find some relief. Physical activity such as intense exercising and running has proven to be effective in lowering sex drive. Masturbation may seem like a sufficient solution, but it only stimulates you further. Through meditation and therapy, individuals with bipolar can learn to divert their brains when they feel their urges kicking in.

Wrap-Up

People with bipolar disorders should be able to lead normal lives, provided they take care of themselves. Take your medication, follow the steps necessary to control your impulsive behavior, remove possible triggers, and adopt a lifestyle that improves your emotional health.

Bipolar disorder doesn’t make you less than anyone else, but you do need to find healthy ways to manage your moods so your life isn’t negatively impacted.

Sherley Alaba is an eagle-eyed wordsmith, writer, and translator. She is always interested in ways which can help individuals (especially youth and women) reach their full creative potential. Her focus has been on writing, producing, and editing stories on business, finance, interesting personalities, entrepreneurs, culture, the environment, gastronomy, lifestyle, and social issues.
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Bipolar Disorder and Sex: Let’s Talk About it