Sex Withdrawal Symptoms: Causes, Side Effects, & Coping Strategies

sex withdrawal symptoms

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Sex withdrawal symptoms can be experienced when sexual activity, which connects us physically, emotionally, and spiritually, decreases or stops. It may lead to psychological and physical discomfort. It’s crucial to understand that each person’s experience of these symptoms will be unique. So, if you ever encounter sexual withdrawal, managing these symptoms effectively is imperative to navigate this period with greater ease and maintain your well-being.

One of the most daring and life-changing choices you will ever make is deciding to recover from your sex addiction. Even though the path to recovery may be difficult, the amount of joy and freedom that recovery can bring will be worth the struggle. In the beginning, sexual withdrawal for a sex addict can have substantial mental and emotional challenges. It can result in cravings, similar to detoxing from drugs or alcohol. In this exhaustive manual, we’ll cover the usual symptoms of sexual withdrawal, discuss the side effects of sexual withdrawal, and provide useful coping strategies and treatment options.

What are Sex Withdrawal Symptoms?

Sex Withdrawal Symptoms are caused by the wide range of emotional and physical changes you will experience during sexual withdrawal as your body adjusts to these changes. 

The symptoms may vary from person to person depending on factors like age, marital status, and general health. The amount of time withdrawal symptoms last depends upon how long you’ve used porn or sex in an unhealthy way. The following are a few potential Sex Withdrawal Symptoms:

What are Sex Withdrawal Symptoms?

Physical Pain: When there is no sexual stimulation, people may feel restlessness and physical symptoms of fatigue, muscle stiffness, or even pain in their genital region.

Libido Changes: Those who stop having sex abruptly may notice a decrease in sexual desire, or an increase in frustration, due to an inability to satisfy that desire.

Emotional Distress: The hormonal and emotional changes brought on by sexual withdrawal may cause irritation, mood swings, emotional fragility, anger, boredom, anxiety, depression, and feeling alone.

Inability to Concentrate: If you have been stuck in fantasy or compulsively watching porn due to your own pornography addiction, shifting your attention to different ideas and behaviors may leave you in a mental fog and unable to concentrate.

Triggers: When people try to escape from painful emotions or reality, they may turn to sexual activities as habits. During withdrawal, triggers can strike at any time. Frequently, a notion of sexual engagement may enter your head, and your immediate reaction will be fear of relapse. It’s important to address those feelings in a healthy manner.

​​Cravings: The more you try to escape your addiction, the more your brain will crave it. That’s what makes it challenging to recover from sex addiction. In the case of sex addiction, it changes the way your brain functions and behaves. As a result, you will feel as if your brain is directing you to seek out and achieve your next high. Hang in there, and those feelings will pass.

Irritability and Mood Swings are Common: Your brain might not be pleased when you strive to overcome your sexual addiction. You can feel irritable and go through mood changes as a result. Your emotions will eventually become more balanced over time.

Sleep Disturbances: When sexual activity abruptly stops, some people may experience insomnia or have disturbed sleep patterns. This is because it can throw off their regular schedule and endorphin release.

Underlying Causes of sexual addiction withdrawal symptoms

Relationships benefit from sexual intimacy as it strengthens the bond between partners. However, individuals may sometimes experience sex addiction withdrawal symptoms, leading to a decline in intimacy. These symptoms can have various underlying causes, some of which are discussed below:

Psychological Problems: Stress, worry, and sadness may reduce sexual desire and worsen sex withdrawal symptoms.

Change in Relationship: Relationship issues like divorce, breakups, or long-distance separation can cause a rapid decrease or absence in sexual activity, which may result in withdrawal symptoms.

Medical Disorders and Medication: Certain medical disorders may restrict you from sexual activity, such as chronic pain, hormone imbalances, or erectile dysfunction. Several medications, such as specific antidepressants and antihypertensive medications, can also lead to withdrawal feelings.

Sexual Withdrawal Side Effects

Sexual Withdrawal Side Effects

There are various physical and emotional side effects of sexual withdrawal. The effects can also vary person-to-person. Some common sexual withdrawal side effects are given below:

Emotional distress

Emotional distress is a state of significant emotional discomfort or suffering that an individual experiences due to withdrawal symptoms of sexual addiction or abuse. It can also be caused by various situations, events, or internal struggles.

Sleeping issues

Due to hormonal changes or psychological aspects of sexual withdrawal, some individuals may experience drowsiness and insomnia. For example, if someone is experiencing heightened sexual tension or frustration due to abstaining from sexual activity, it might affect their ability to relax and fall asleep easily.

Decrease in self-esteem and feelings of inadequacy

Sex withdrawal can affect a person’s emotions, behavior, and self-perception. Some people who abstain from sexual activity for extended periods may experience psychological repercussions such as low self-esteem and inadequacy.

Increase in stress, worry, and anxiety

Some people may experience increased stress, concern, and anxiety as a frequent emotional reaction to sex withdrawal. Keep in mind that each person will react to sexual withdrawal differently. Seeking expert assistance from a mental health counselor or therapist can help understand and manage these emotions of stress, worry, or anxiety that become overpowering or last for a long time.

Mood swings

When a person experience erratic swings between emotions, such as extreme happiness, sadness, impatience, or anxiety. These are known as Mood swings. Mood swings are, in fact, potential adverse effects of sexual withdrawal.

Emotional vulnerability

Individuals may experience increased emotional vulnerability as a result of sex withdrawal.

It is important to notice that sexual withdrawal side effects can vary in intensity and duration depending upon personal circumstances, including the duration and the extent of your sexual withdrawal. It may be helpful to seek assistance from medical specialists or therapists specializing in sexual health if these adverse effects persist or significantly affect one’s health.

Coping with Sexual Withdrawal Symptoms


Here are some suggestions that will help you to cope with withdrawal symptoms.

Have fun: Explore your hobbies and try to engage yourself with the activities you enjoy doing. This will help to distract your mind from the withdrawal symptoms.

Self-Exploreation and Patience: Recovering and building a healthy lifestyle takes time. However, there is a simple formula: “One day at a time.” This will help you realize that the emotions you’re experiencing will pass quickly.

Alternative Intimacy: There are many non-sexual ways you can experience intimacy with your partner, such as: hugging, kissing, cuddling, having meaningful conversations, and focusing on building an emotional connection.

Knowing your Triggers: Triggers usually last for 15 to 30 minutes, so creating a plan on how to stop, manage, and work through triggers will help you get over your withdrawal symptoms.

Communication: Communication is an essential factor in coping with sex withdrawal symptoms. By sharing your experience with your partner and trusted friends, they can provide you with emotional support, helping you feel better and more understood.

Professional Help: Consult a therapist or counselor specializing in treating sex addiction. They will give you specialized assistance and management techniques to help you address any unique challenges you might face with sex addicts.

Explore Mordy Gottlieb’s insights on addressing sex withdrawal symptoms. Don’t let sexual withdrawal symptoms hold you back. Join The Game Changer Therapy Group for supportive solutions that promote healing and growth. Book a Confidential therapy session with Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW) and CSAT Mordy Gottlieb.