The Caregiver's Journey

Sexual Behavior

Many people with TBI change how they act during intimate moments.

Those with moderate to severe TBI may sometimes act in sexually inappropriate ways. These behaviors can often be managed over time. It takes patience, feedback, and a consistent approach.

What you might see:

  • Hypersexuality (thinking about or wanting frequent sexual activity, e.g., masturbation)
  • Hyposexuality, or a lack of interest in sex 
  • Discomfort with intimacy 
  • Trying to kiss or touch strangers 
  • Making suggestive or flirtatious comments to or about others 
  • Disrobing or engaging in masturbation in front of others

How you can help:

  • Develop a “stop and think” signal to let your family member know that he/she is saying something inappropriate.
  • Use redirection (i.e., try to change the topic or focus of interest to something else).
  • Talk to your family member about what are and are not acceptable ways to act in public.
  • Tell your family member that having sexual feelings is normal. Sexual behavior, however, is a private matter.
  • Find a way for your family member to express his or her sexual needs (i.e., in the privacy of his or her room).
  • Emotional changes and physical symptoms can affect desire for intimacy and sex. Ask your family member to discuss concerns with the doctor or counselor.