Sexual behaviour is one of the areas of human behaviour in which it is most difficult to draw the line between normal and pathological.

A classification of the main sexual disorders can give us an idea of how this aspect of our behaviour is organised. So let’s talk a little bit about each sexual behavior disorder to get a better understanding.

Sexual disorders: what are they and how do they manifest themselves?

The sexual disorders have been divided into three large groups such as paraphilias , sexual dysfunctions and sexual identity disorders . This way of classifying them provides us with a basic outline of the types of sexual and psychosexual disorders.

We will now review each of these major groups to better understand the nature of each sexual disorder, as well as its most common manifestations.

1. Paraphilias

Paraphilias are characterized by and ntense and repeated sexual fantasies, impulses of a sexual nature involving non-human objects, suffering or humiliation of one’s own or children or people who do not consent, and who are therefore considered to be maladaptive, since they harm the quality of life of the individual and/or of the people who relate to him/her. Several of them are the following:

1.1. Exhibitionism

It is a behavior that is characterized by a high level of arousal through the exposure of the genitals to a person spontaneously and successively . It tends to predominate in children and adolescents of no more than 20-30 years of age. It occurs more frequently in men and in public places. These people have been described as shy, withdrawn and dependent.

1.2. Voyeurism

It is characterized by the excitement of a person when contemplating naked people or performing some kind of sexual activity , the risk of being discovered acts as an arousal enhancer. It begins in adolescence and can be temporary or chronic. They tend to be shy and have some difficulty in starting or maintaining relationships. Recently a practice has been reported in some cities consisting of people who frequent places where couples go to have sex. This practice, derived from voyeurism, has been called dogging.

1.3. Froteurism

It consists of l to erotic excitement through the rubbing of the genital organ with the body of another person without their consent . These activities are usually carried out in public places such as the subway, discos or the bus. Rubbing is accompanied by masturbation in the face of memory. It affects men between 15-20 years old.

1.4. Fetishism

The person who becomes aroused by observing and manipulating inanimate objects such as women’s underwear . They often masturbate while touching the garment in question. They are usually heterosexual men. Within this we can define transvestite fetishism, which consists of wearing underwear of the opposite sex when they are alone or when they perform the act with their partner. In another article we define the rarest and most curious fetishes.


Also known as pedophilia. This is the name of the disorder characterized by sexual arousal or pleasure through fantasy and behavior involving sexual activity between an adult and a child aged 8-12.

1.6. Sadism

It is the need to inflict harm on another person in order to become sexually aroused . It involves sexual urges and behaviours that involve actual acts with or without the consent of the victim. The sadist may or may not rape the victim, including masturbation or penetration with objects.

1.7. Masochism

Masochism implies the need to be humiliated, attacked or abused in order to obtain sexual pleasure . It is one of the most clearly harmful paraphilias, as it limits people’s freedom.

Sadomasochism, as a clinical disorder and category, should not be confused with the idea of sadomasochism related to certain types of sex games that are based on mutual agreement and that do not limit a person’s ability to find sexual pleasure in other tendencies.

2. Sexual dysfunctions

The sexual dysfunctions include all the alterations that occur during the sexual act, they can present at the beginning of the sexual life or even later. The causes may be physical, psychological or both. Within this we have several:

2.1. Disorders of sexual desire

The main disorders of sexual desire are the following:

  • Inhibited sexual desire : characterized by a deficit in sexual fantasies and lack of sexual desire. This apathy includes not only a lack of interest in sex but also in all sexual behaviour such as masturbation. It is usually much more frequent in women.
  • Sex aversion disorder : people with this disorder avoid all genital contact. They often have a high level of anxiety and panic about sex. It occurs more often in women.
  • Sexual arousal disorder : Arousal disorder in women, failure to maintain lubrication of sexual arousal until completion of sexual activity. And erection disorder in men, total or partial failure to obtain or maintain an erection until the end of sexual intercourse. The most common is impotence.
  • Orgasm disorders : includes male and female sexual dysfunctions and premature ejaculation. Within this category we can also find Female orgasmic dysfunction (anorgasmy) is defined as an absence or delay of orgasm during normal sexual activity. Psychological factors tend to predominate over organic ones. There is also Male orgasmic dysfunction , which is characterized by the absence or delay of orgasm in men after normal arousal.
  • Pain disorders : in women, we find female dyspaurenia: 12% of women suffer from it. It appears associated with problems of vaginismus normally. The pain can be present in all attempts at sexual intercourse or in certain postures. Among the possible causes are usually disorders in the vagina or deformities.Painful ejaculation or urethral infections may occur in men.
  • Vaginism : can occur even when a woman responds adequately to sexual arousal. The problem comes at the time of intercourse, a reflex spasm occurs that causes the muscles of the vagina to contract, thus causing the vaginal opening to close.

3. Disorders of sexual identity

Finally we have the sexual identity disorders , which refers to the discomfort a person feels because of his or her sexual condition together with the desire to be of the other sex. Among these people it is common to have a desire to undergo plastic surgery that can transform them into a person with a sexual visibility that responds to their identity.

In this area, there is a long debate about whether conflicts in sexual identity should be considered as disorders, or simply as sexual preferences, as would be the case with homosexuality.

In fact, although the DSM psychiatric diagnostic manual incorporated it in its first four editions, since DSM-V it has taken the step of removing Gender Identity Disorder from the list of mental illnesses.However, WHO still considers transsexuality a disorder.

Bibliographic references:

  • R Ball, Segraves RT, eds. (2005). Handbook of Sexual Dysfunction . Taylor & Francis.
  • Basson, Rosemary (March 2000). “Report of the International Consensus Development Conference on Female Sexual Dysfunction: Definitions and Classifications. The Journal of Urology (United States of America).
  • Nolen-Hoeksema, Susan (2014). Abnormal Psychology . 2 Penn Plaza, New York, NY 10121: McGraw-Hill. pp. 366-367.