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What is frotteurism?

Frotteurism is a sexual disorder. People who have this disorder are sexually aroused by touching and rubbing their body against a non-consenting person. The behavior usually occurs in crowded places.

How does it occur?

The exact cause of this disorder is not known. Experts think it may be caused by differences in the brain or nervous system. It might also be related to things such as child abuse or a family history of mental illness. This disorder is most common in males.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms of this disorder include:

  • Having intense sexual desires, fantasies, or behaviors that involve touching and rubbing against someone who does not consent to this behavior. These fantasies and behaviors happen over and over for at least 6 months.
  • Fantasizing that they have caring relationship with the victim, but try to escape after touching the victim.

How is it diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will ask about your symptoms, relationships, medical history, and any drug or alcohol use. He or she may also ask if someone close to you has a history of mental illness. Your provider may also do a physical exam and order tests to rule out medical problems as a cause of your symptoms.

You may be diagnosed with frotteurism if:

  • You have fantasies, urges, or behaviors that cause distress.
  • The disorder causes problems in school, on the job, or in relationships.

How is it treated?

Both therapy and medicines may be used to treat this disorder.

Different kinds of conditioning therapy may be used to treat this disorder:

  • Biofeedback therapy. You are connected to a machine that gives you feedback with light or sound. You try to keep feedback within a certain range while you are exposed to sexually exciting material.
  • Covert sensitization. You first relax and picture scenes that excite you. Then you imagine something negative, such as getting your penis stuck in the zipper of your pants.
  • Assisted aversive conditioning. In this form of therapy, the negative event is real rather than imagined. For example, your therapist sprays a bad smell such as ammonia in the air. The goal is for you to link your actions with something negative and avoid both.

Two kinds of medicines may be used to treat this disorder:

  • Antiandrogens reduce male sex hormone levels.
  • SSRI medicines such as fluoxetine (Prozac) increase the brain chemical serotonin. Low levels of serotonin in the brain result in an increased sex drive. SSRI’s help to reduce obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors. SSRI’s also help reduce sexual impulses.

When should I seek help?

Frotteurism is considered a form of sexual assault and may be a criminal act. Seek help from your healthcare provider or a mental health professional.

For more information, contact:

Developed by RelayHealth.
Published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2010-06-07
Last reviewed: 2010-06-07
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
© 2011 RelayHealth and/or its affiliates. All rights reserved.
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