How to Stop Thinking About Sex

Thinking about sex is perfectly natural. We're hormonal, sexual beings, whose genes drive us to procreate. But sometimes, sexual thoughts can become overwhelming, making it difficult to focus and difficult to get simple things done. However, it's possible for those urges and desires to become more like background noise as you go through your everyday life, especially when you should be thinking more about career, education, health, interests and hobbies, family and friends, money, etc. Read after the jump to begin learning to stop thinking about sex.

Avoiding Triggers

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    Understand and anticipate categories of triggers. While it might be easy to identify specific triggers or situational triggers, such as those above, try to see if you can isolate patterns to your triggers. This understanding can help you become more proactive about the types of things to avoid when trying to decrease sexual thoughts.
    • Do your triggers tend to be more visual or more verbal? Men, for example, tend to be more turned on by visual stimuli,[1] while women might be more affected by verbal ones.
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    Know your own particular triggers. If a particular person, time of day, or emotion always leads you to distracting thoughts about sex, learn to identify those triggers that drag your mind into the gutter. Create a list of your triggers. Maybe you always think about sex:
    • First thing in the morning.
    • During a particular class, like gym, yoga, etc.
    • On the bus.
    • When you're supposed to be studying or working.
    • When you're around someone you like.
    • In bed.
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    Make it difficult to look at pornography. While it might seem like a way to satisfy sexual urges temporarily, developing an unhealthy reliance on or relationship with pornography could spiral into more and more sexual thoughts, making it very hard to get free of their grip.
    • Get rid of pornographic videos, magazines, calendars, and other materials at home and in places you frequently visit. To the best of your ability, avoid watching pornography.
    • If you have a firewall guard in your computer, try to enable parental controls, and put the profile to teen so you won't accidentally stumble across any pornography. Parental controls don’t have to be just for kids, and you can set them up on all your browsers and other devices.[2]
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    Keep a list of unsexy topics. Think of things that you consider the opposite of sexy. You could try turning yourself off by training yourself to think of unsexy things when your mind drifts into sexual territory. Anything that you would consider an unsexy mental diversion could work here.
    • Try thinking about neutral pleasant topics like scenic outdoor views, underwater scenes, puppies, sports bloopers, or chess strategy.
    • You could think of cold-related topics like big and bulky clothing, snow, or winter.
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    Replace your triggers with other thoughts and topics. Get in your own way and don't allow yourself to think about sex by focusing on these other things. It will become second nature before too long.
    • Find something to do immediately as a diversion. If you're always dwelling on sex during idle bus rides, for example, make a special effort to do something else during your ride, like finishing some homework, reading a new book, or talking to a friend. Or, if you start thinking about sex at boring points in a class, a meeting, or at work, for example, you might start taking notes. By keeping your pen moving, you'll have to stay focused on the conversation at hand and not what's going on in your mind.
    • Keep discussion topics top of mind. If you can't run into a particular person without thinking about sex and getting embarrassed, come up with three specific things you want to ask them next time you see them. You could also come up with more thought-provoking topics that apply to most people, such as those surrounding current events, global affairs, the environment, or even politics.[3]
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    Make a commitment to yourself. Make a minimum goal to curb your sexual thoughts so that they don't distract you from your other daily activities, such as work or school, and commit to it.
    • If you need help remembering your commitment, wear a piece of jewelry or a simple string around your wrist that will remind you to power through the temptation to get lost in sexual thought.
    • Tell someone about your goal. Telling a trusted friend or family member about your efforts is a good way to help you stay accountable. Have them check in with you regularly to see that you’re doing okay and to provide help or suggestions, if needed.
    • Reward yourself for keeping your commitment. This should be pretty straightforward. You could reward yourself with a favorite dessert, a shopping trip, or something else you like.
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    Don't beat yourself up. Thinking about sex is a big part of adolescence and adulthood, and you don't need to feel guilty about it. The only way sexual thoughts become a problem is if you can't focus on what you want to think about. Remember that it’s not always going to be difficult, and the present urge will pass.[4]

Keeping Busy

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    Make specific plans. Fill idle time in your schedule by planning things in advance. Everyone needs time to relax, but finding yourself with hours of time on your hands might lead to backsliding and thinking about sex too much. Schedule your day full with events and activities to better yourself. Leave a bit of time at the end of the day for reflection and relaxation, but not so much that you'll get bored or that your mind will wander toward sex.
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    Be creative. Translate your sex drive into creative energy. Take the time you'd usually spend thinking about sex and instead devote it to a creative hobby. If it's something you really enjoy, it can provide you with an alternate avenue for catharsis and satisfaction, keeping your mind busy and occupied.
    • Writing, including journaling.
    • Singing, playing a musical instrument, or spinning.
    • Painting, drawing, or sculpting.
    • Knitting or sewing.
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    Pick up a book or movie. Getting lost in an engrossing book or movie is fun in and of itself, but it can also be an easy, low-energy way to avoid sexual thoughts, particularly in the short term.
    • Be sure to find a movie that won’t remind you of sex, and stay clear of steamy romance novels or sexy illustrations.
    • Most animated, action, adventure, thriller, or mystery films and books could work here.
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    Go to a show or exhibit. This will keep your mind occupied with other things and could be a lot of fun. Going with friends is even better as they can further distract you. Plus, you can talk with them about the event afterward and what you thought of it.
    • Consider attending a live performance, such as a concert, musical, play, lecture, or reading.
    • You might also go to a museum, a new exhibit, an aquarium, or a zoo.

Staying Healthy

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    Remember to eat. Sexual thoughts or dissatisfaction might come from another sort of dissatisfaction: hunger. So, don’t to skip meals. Try to eat three, healthy balanced meals per day, and remember to hydrate as well, particularly during hot weather. To keep your mind sharp enough to ward off sexual thoughts, try eating brain foods like celery, spinach, walnuts, sunflower or pumpkin seeds, beets, and even dark chocolate![5]
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    Exercise. Obviously, exercising is healthy itself, but it also does a few specific things that help damper sexual preoccupations. Exercise can be engrossing and distracting, and when you work out hard enough, other distractions have a tendency of receding into the background.
    • Exercise provides a natural endorphin rush. Endorphins provide a generally good feeling, and help relieve depression.[6] During sex, endorphins are also released, along with other chemicals like the hormone oxytocin.[7] Ergo, exercise can be a good substitute for sexual activity.
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    Take up a team sport. While playing an individual sport, you may have difficulty getting away from your own thoughts. With team sports, you’re much less likely to have this problem because they are social activities.
    • Choose the right type of sport and team. Of course, you may still be attracted to someone else on your team or in your league, but you should be able to determine whether the benefits of playing outweigh the risk of worsening your thoughts about sex. You might also try joining a single-sex team or a different league, for example.
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    Sleep restfully. When you’re tired, you might have trouble focusing. Lack of sleep reduces your alertness and concentration, and it can affect your mood.[8] So, you’ll have difficulty preventing your mind from wandering to sex, and it will be harder to implement the sex-free thought practices above. Make sure your bed is comfortable and that you’re getting eight hours of sleep and deep sleep or REM sleep.

Cultivating a Healthy Sex Life

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    Communicate with your partner. If you’re in a relationship, communication is a key part of cultivating a healthy sex life. Getting thoughts out in the open is also a good way to keep them from growing or festering in your head, and it can improve your sex life instead.
    • If you're sexually active, communicate with your partner to maintain a healthy and open sexual relationship that keeps you both fulfilled. Communication doesn’t have to be just verbal, either. You can write your partner notes. As a couple, you could also read a book together or watch a film that shows or articulates your thoughts.[9] And if you’re reluctant to communicate with your partner about sex, remember that communication itself is a turn on.[10]
    • If you’re not sexually active, it’s equally important to communicate. If you're thinking about sex more than you'd like to even though you're not sexually active, is it because there's something lacking or frustrating about your sex life? Talk to your partner openly and truthfully. You also want to make sure your expectations are aligned with your partners. You should know if and when, for example, your partner wants to begin having sex, and he should know when you want to have sex as well.
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    Think of sex in romantic terms. If you are in a relationship, use your sexual drive to act in a loving and caring manner toward your partner. Be romantic instead of strictly sexual, per se. That way, you can build the emotional intimacy you share with each other.
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    Develop healthy attitudes and practices about masturbation. With masturbation, there's nothing to feel guilty about, especially if it helps keep your sexual thoughts and urges in check. Abstaining might even worsen your urges. If you're constantly thinking about finding a sexual partner, you can date regularly yet keep yourself partially sexually satisfied through masturbation. This can help free your mind to focus on more important things. Just make sure masturbation doesn't turn into a new addiction, however.
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    Remember that it’s not all about sex. Any topic that you think about too much or obsess over can seem all-consuming, and while sex is important and seems omnipresent, life is not entirely reduced to sex and sexual desires. You’re a complicated, multi-faceted person. So, honor your various thoughts, interests, and abilities.

Seeking External Help

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    Talk to a trusted family member. Even though parents may seem like dinosaurs when you get to your teenage years, your parents have been there before. If you’re a teen, talking to a parent you feel comfortable with can, if not solve your problem, at least help you to feel more comfortable and normal. Thinking about sex is a common struggle for teenagers and talking about it can help.
    • Talk to other family members. If you do not wish to speak with your parents, consider talking to an older sibling or a cousin. They might be able to relate to you better since they’re closer in age.
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    Tell a trusted friend about your problem. As terrifying as this may sound, it is one of the most powerful and effective approaches. If you are lucky enough to know someone who is not judgmental and will understand and appreciate your goal, talk to them about how you are doing. Having a frank conversation when you feel compelled to think or act in ways you would rather not can be a reassuring source on ongoing support.
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    Talk to a religious advisor or counselor. If you're struggling with sexual urges as a part of your commitment to a particular faith, get help from your pastor or another religious leader. This is a common issue and you shouldn't feel embarrassed to bring it up. They have heard this and much more before, and can help you keep your challenges in perspective.
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    Consult a therapist or guidance counselor. This could include psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, or and other types of therapists.
    • Some specialists charge a fee, but look to see if your insurance covers all or part of your visits. If you’re a student or have comprehensive workplace benefits, you may be able to consult a specialist at little or no cost. Whether you pay or not, your visit and specific concerns will be kept confidential, and your therapist can explain confidentiality further with you. Knowing how to address any obsessive thought, sexual or otherwise, is something they can help you learn to deal with.
    • There is also much less of a stigma today to speaking with therapists, and you might be surprise about the people who regularly see a specialist. So, you shouldn’t hesitate for social reasons about visiting one.
    • If you suspect your overwhelming thoughts may be a kind of sexual addiction, seek help from a licensed sex therapist and treat those symptoms as well. Don't let an obsession turn into destructive or dangerous behavior.
Dr Rohit Bhaskar, Physio
Dr Rohit Bhaskar, Physio Hey, I am founder of Bhaskar Health and completed my Graduation in Physiotherapy from Uttar Pradesh University of Medical Sciences. My clinical interests are in Chest Physiotherapy, stroke rehab, parkinson’s and head injury rehab.

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