Sexual Orientation OCD/SO-OCD

What is Sexual Orientation OCD/SO-OCD?

Sexual Orientation OCD, also known as SO-OCD, is a form of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) that causes unwanted thoughts about one’s sexual orientation. These obsessions can cause the person to believe that his or her true sexual orientation is different from his or her actual preference, which can cause significant distress.

People with SO-OCD may fear that they are not attracted to their partners, or that they have experienced sexual feelings towards someone of the same gender (or other gender when not in a long-term relationship). People with this type of OCD may also worry about being sexually “trapped” into a particular orientation, and they may fear that they will never be able to change the “trapped” orientation.

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Symptoms of Sexual Orientation OCD/SO-OCD

Symptoms of sexual orientation OCD may include the following for both genders:

  • Distress about one’s sexual identity. People with this type of OCD tend to doubt their actual sexual orientation, and they often fear that they are “something else” or homosexual when in fact that is not true. Because SO-OCD involves questioning one’s sexual identity, it can cause significant distress and anxiety.
  • Obsessive thoughts or urges about one’s own sexual orientation. People with SO-OCD may experience obsessive thoughts about their actual sexual orientation, such as intrusive worries that they are gay when they are not, or unwanted sexual fantasies about people of the same gender.
  • Avoidance or compulsive behaviors related to one’s sexual orientation. People with SO-OCD may try to avoid situations that could trigger their obsessive thoughts about their own sexual identity, such as being in romantic relationships with people of the opposite gender. They may also engage in compulsive rituals, such as compulsively checking online quizzes or other resources to try to determine their true sexual orientation.

If you are experiencing symptoms of sexual orientation OCD, it is important to seek help from a mental health professional. Treatment may include cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), which can help you learn to manage your obsessive thoughts and avoid compulsive behaviors related to your sexual identity.

Obsessions of Sexual Orientation OCD/SO-OCD

Obsessions of sexual orientation OCD can include thoughts or urges that focus on the possibility that a person’s sexual orientation may not be accurate. These obsessions may involve fears that the individual is actually gay, straight, bisexual, or asexual even though they have always identified as one particular sexual orientation. Thoughts about these types of obsessions may lead to significant distress and anxiety.


Another obsession that can be associated with sexual orientation OCD is fears about being attracted to children or others who may not be appropriate sexual partners. These types of obsessions often lead to compulsive behaviors, such as compulsively seeking out information online about what constitutes appropriate sexual relationships, constantly asking other people questions about their own sexual attractions, and engaging in compulsive masturbation or other sexual behaviors.

Compulsions of Sexual Orientation OCD/SO-OCD

One of the most common compulsions associated with sexual orientation OCD is seeking reassurance from others about one’s sexual orientation. People with SO-OCD often experience extreme doubt about their own sexual orientation, and will repeatedly ask others for reassurance in an attempt to reduce their anxiety. This may involve asking friends or family members directly whether they think the person is gay or may take the form of more subtle methods such as reading other people’s body language for signs that they are attracted to a particular gender.


Another common compulsion associated with SO-OCD is avoidance. Many people with this condition find it extremely difficult to engage in any kind of sexual activity, even with a partner of the same gender. This can result in significant distress and may lead to problems with intimacy, relationships, or other areas of life.


In addition to compulsions and avoidance behaviors, people with SO-OCD also sometimes engage in mental rituals. For example, some individuals will repeatedly review their past sexual experiences in an attempt to determine whether or not they are attracted to a particular gender. Other individuals experience intrusive thoughts related to their sexual orientation and may try to neutralize them by engaging in certain mental activities or habits.


Although the compulsions associated with SO-OCD can be very distressing, treatment is available that can help you manage these symptoms and regain control of your life.