One question that I have often pondered: Why did my son’s OCD take sex as its focus? It’s hard enough to deal with any OCD, but to have it centered on such as sensitive topic somehow makes it even harder. Even now we don’t often mention it to others who aren’t directly involved with OCD. On the rare occasion that we have said something we are inevitably asked, “So, that does means he wants it (ie sex) all the time? Or, does this mean he is a sex addict? As anyone who has dealt with OCD knows, these obsessions (or any obsession in OCD) have nothing to do with pleasure, but instead, cause extreme fear and shame.
Even if we can’t figure out why Ray ended up with sexual obsessions as opposed to some other type, we do know that Ray is not alone. In one study in which about 300 people who have OCD were asked about sexual obsessions, it was reported that about 25% had a history of sexual obsessions and that about 13% were currently (ie at the time of the study) having these types of obsessions. The same study also reported that those who have sexual obsessions often have an earlier age of OCD onset (about 4 years earlier than other OCD obsessions). In fact, the occurrence of sexual obsessions in OCD often coincides with the onset of puberty, which suggests that sex hormones (testosterone or estrogen) may somehow be involved in the triggering of this type of OCD.
The good news for OCDers like Ray who have sexual obsessions is that this type of OCD is not associated with any additional difficulties. In other words, those who have sexual obsessions have the same degree of insight into their OCD, response just as well to medication and therapy, and have just as much satisfaction in their sexual functioning as those who have other types of obsessions.
Why did Ray’s OCD take sexual matters as its focus? We will never know for sure. The best explanation that I have come across was in an article that directly discussed OCD and sexual obsessions, “Obsessions tend to make the sacred profane… Since sex is heavily laden with emotional, moral, and religious significance, it can become a prime topic for obsessions.” We have also come to one important conclusion: It doesn’t matter. And, to spend time and energy trying to find out why Ray’s OCD centers on sexual matters doesn’t help us at all. We just wish that others around us would think the same.