What’s a Normal Sex Life with Bipolar?

January 31, 2013 Natasha Tracy

I get asked about the sex life of the bipolar on a regular basis. People want to know what’s “normal” or can they have that mythical “normal” sex life. Some of these people are partners of people with bipolar and others are the people with bipolar themselves. It seems we’re all a bit mystified as to how this mental illness affects our sex lives.

Well, I can’t say what is normal for you, but I can tell you what I know about bipolar and sex.

Are Bipolars Sexually Weird?

Well now. If I were to tell you about what it’s like to have sex with me it would probably involve more panting, smacking, scratching, screaming, gnawing and clawing than your average person. But that’s me. That’s just how I roll. It’s not necessarily indicative of the bipolar population as a whole.

What I will say about the bipolar population, from my tiny perspective, is it seems that:

  • People with bipolar are more sexually adventurous than the average
  • People with bipolar are more likely to have had sex with both genders
  • People with bipolar may or may not identify as bisexual, regardless

Keep in mind, none of this is to suggest that people with bipolar are any less capable of monogamy than others. Some people have issues with it while others don't.

(Mind you, I have no stats to back any of that up. To the best of my knowledge no such research has been carried out.)

Hypersexuality and Bipolar

Part of this may be the hypersexuality that many people with bipolar disorder experience. Hypersexuality tends to occur during mania or hypomania and it creates the need for sex such that it seems you could claw through a wall if it meant getting to the sex on the other side. Picture being turned ravenously on by a dish towel. Or a floor lamp. Or a piece of tuna fish. And then needing to sate that need with the nearest warm body. Hypersexuality sort of like that.

(Of course, the opposite phenomenon also occurs. When in a depressed phase a person with bipolar may want nothing to do with sex at all.)

Bipolar Medication and Sex

Some people find that taking medication for bipolar dulls their desire for sex. This is a common problem, actually. But, believe me, many people with bipolar disorder still have healthy, fulfilling sex lives while taking their medication. And if your sex life is an issue for you, I recommend discussing it with your doctor as there are things that can be done to address that need. After all, sex is a part of life and it’s a part you don’t want, or need, to hang up just because you have a mental illness.

Having a “Normal” Sex Life with Bipolar

Look, I can’t tell you what is normal for you. It might be having sex every day, every week or every month. It might involve whips and chains or it might involve beaches and sunsets. That’s something only you can decide. What I can tell you is that it’s entirely possible for most people with bipolar to achieve the sex life that they want. There are therapeutic techniques that can deal with hypersexuality or low sex drive, and, of course, there are always medical options as well.

And remember, no matter what is happening with your sex life, it’s important to be open about it with your partner. If something is amiss your partner likely feels it too and it’s by dealing with it out in the open, and by getting help, that you can make it better.

You can find Natasha Tracy on Facebook or GooglePlus or @Natasha_Tracy on Twitter.

APA Reference
Tracy, N. (2013, January 31). What’s a Normal Sex Life with Bipolar?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 13 from

Author: Natasha Tracy

Natasha Tracy is a renowned speaker, award-winning advocate, and author of Lost Marbles: Insights into My Life with Depression & Bipolar. She's also the host of the podcast Snap Out of It! The Mental Illness in the Workplace Podcast.

Natasha is also unveiling a new book, Bipolar Rules! Hacks to Live Successfully with Bipolar Disorder, mid-2024.

Find Natasha Tracy on her blog, Bipolar BurbleX, InstagramFacebook, and YouTube.

Rachel Blackwell
November, 24 2013 at 7:37 pm

I'm guessing he's just some random idiot Julia. I wonder where he gets his info from... Natasha is clearly a reliable, wonderful and helpful person in dedicating her time to this blog. Personally, I have found it a godsend.

August, 25 2013 at 6:38 am

Um, who is this Bob person? . . .
Most mental illnesses are physical in nature (i.e. brain-based). IE. bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, clinical major depression . . .to name the most obvious.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

November, 20 2018 at 4:03 am

Bob needs education

bob carter
August, 25 2013 at 4:40 am

Natasha Tracy, you are a moron!!! Not only that: You are irresponsible! You write, "It seems we’re all a bit mystified as to how this mental illness affects our sex lives." THIS IS NOT A MENTAL ILLNESS!!! How dare this topic be written about by you! A bipolar disorder is a physical illness that affects the chemicals in your body! At NO time does any intelligent person (in the last thirty plus years) rate this as a mental illness! The U.S. Courts even classify this as the only disease of this type that can be addressed by the Courts as it CAN BE measured and dealt with in a physical way! PLEASE - NEVER, EVER PUT YOUR NAME TO AN ARTICLE FOR OTHERS TO READ AGAIN on this subject (and probably any others if you show such stupidity in this field - you must be a complete idiot on any subject!!!!!!!!!!!!).

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

July, 25 2018 at 4:58 pm

FYI, the American Psychological Association classifies bipolarism/manic depression as a mental illness.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

September, 25 2018 at 12:07 pm

As much as I dislike bipolar disorder being classified as a "mental illness" it is just that. My doctor refers to bipolar as a mood disorder, because it has controls over your mood. Regardless of the category, living with this disorder is a huge challenge. It effects my everyday life and the anxiety it causes is some days unbearable.

July, 1 2013 at 11:46 am

Just a quick question,I met a guy 8 month's ago,I didn't want to rush anything,he had mentioned he had bipolar,but I didn't take much notice,he rushed to tell me he loved me put the relationship tag on us and then 5 months later said it was to much pressure and wanted to take the relationship tag off us,so I agreed and left it at that,he was very sexually guy,but recently has said he isn't in the mood for it and now says he doesn't know how he feels about anything,could it b bipolar or is it him letting me down gently really unsure advice would b grate

June, 19 2013 at 9:26 pm

Thank you so much for this! I have been dealing with the effects of mania-driven hypersexuality my entire life, though it was only after recent career change that I was afforded the opportunity to really be sexually free. Once I found that freedom, the bouts of hypersexuality/mania left me in a chaotic mess!
I had a therapist attempt to send me to an AA-like group for my promiscuous behavior, yet I took great offense to being labeled a "sex addict" when, clearly, my extreme sexual activities were related to mania and episodic in nature.
When I read you description of how it feels to be hypersexual, that it feels like you would "break through a wall to get to the sex on the other side," or what you said about being "aroused by a fishbowl." That is EXACTLY how I feel! I'm glad I am not alone.
I keep a blog related to my sexual exploration, much of which has been driven through bouts of mania. This exploration has had both positive and negative affects. My issue is that I think most people just cannot comprehend the feeling. I think most of the people subscribed to my blog think that I must be lying or exaggerating. How many people can relate to having multiple, anonymous partners for eighteen hours straight? How many people can relate the almost hellish experience of never having that refractory period following orgasm, which means nothing can truly get at that "itch" that takes over your mind and body? How many people experience going at it until their body just quits... and then still having the ravenous urge for it! I think you can, and I appreciate that so much!
Sorry to ramble, but I am happy that I discovered your page! Thank you for writing it.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

June, 28 2018 at 1:24 am

I'm involved with the person with bipolar I love him so much but we are not yet Into sexual intercourse,sometimes I feel like living him because he can be moody,and I think I'm not my self when I'm with him,I feel like I have to impress him so that he can feel good..I don't know what should I do????

February, 11 2013 at 1:14 pm

Jacie the main point I am trying to make here is that his behaviour has everything to do with his illness and nothing to do with his feelings about you.

February, 11 2013 at 1:12 pm

Hi Jacie,
When I am not well it is very hard to function properly in any respect. It's also hard for others to understand that. When people put pressure on me, when I'm not well, to perform, even when it's done with love, I am stuck between a rock and a hard place.
I have two options then. My favourite option is to run away and cry. But, if I'm trapped in a corner, I will snap like a wounded animal. I hate doing this because I can see how much it hurts my loved ones. But sometimes I have no choice. I need time and patience for treatment to work, so I can get back to doing the things I love, and being the person I am.
Now your husband is a different person to me, so my insights may not apply here, but it's something to think about.

February, 10 2013 at 11:19 pm

I am hoping to get some husband of 16 years never like holding hands, being intimate, just doing his own thing about 2 months into our marriage. I brought a son in from a previous and they seemed to hit it off. He was Dx'ed with Bipolar 2 and he lost interest in the kids and i and just went out after his job *which he had long before i met him. It has been such a lonely life for the kids and myself. He hasn't been hospitalize since i have been with him and seems very stable. Now kids are older my son moved out and my 16 year old can get him to do anything for her. Rides anytime of the night, borrowing large sums of money and he will never yell at her.
But with me he yells and rants and makes me cry and he just goes down the hall screaming shut up, shup up shut-up and puts another hole in the wall like last night. I don't know what to do anymore i have lost so much weight and wear a size 0 i look so ugly but he scares me with his moods and won't see a therapist, he said only one time that is it.
He also wants us to a marriage therapist but i do not think he is stable, I am really scare:( Jacie

Kathy Shannon
February, 5 2013 at 1:13 pm

I have been living with BP for so long I can't remember when I first realized things were not normal in my life. Over the years, especially when I was single, the need for sex was a constant. As I have gotten older, now in my early 50's, I have realized that the problem with the need was not for the sex but for the orgasm. I have only had one partner in my life who was able to accomplish this. For the past 10 years since I have been with my husband sex is not an issue. I prefer not to have sex as I am not satisfied and has become very uncomfortable (hurts to do.) Not being satisfied means I get depressed, I get angry, and feelings other than my own get hurt. So I no longer have sex to avoid these problems. Any suggestions to help me have an active sex life again?

Kaitlin Panda
February, 4 2013 at 7:20 pm

I agree that people with Bipolar seem to be more sexually adventurous.
My issue is that I'll complain it's never enough, and then get depressed and say I don't want it. My poor partner...

February, 4 2013 at 1:52 am

At soon to be 54 and both HIV and Bipolar dating; let alone sex is hard, I have given up trying, not even into the new year two full months yet and I'm giving up alot lately.
I like what you write, keep up the excellent work.

February, 3 2013 at 9:12 am

I am dx schizo affective/bipolar type and even though I am old, I still try to get it on as much as I can safely.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

November, 20 2018 at 3:56 am

I have bipolar, I was diagnosed at 18. I’ve been in a same sex relationship for approx 8 years. Our sex life cant be stale in times that I’m low which I’m supporter by my partner but when I’m manic I find my self incredibly attracted to men and seeking sexual activity with men, flirting and being a complete porn star with them lol. I’ve never been in a relationship with man nor would I engage in the behaviour when I’m stable. Our bipolar brains and work in curious ways!

February, 1 2013 at 1:49 pm

Hypersexuality is only an issue if it causes you to behave in such a way that is inconsistent with your values and your aims in life. So for example if a Christian was saving themselves for marriage but became disinhibited. Or somebody was impulsive and didn't use protection. Or somebody in an official position did something embarassing which came out in the press.
A low libido can be destructive to relationships, if there is not an understanding that the cause is medical and not personal.

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