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Close your eyes and imagine someone who is a sex addict. Who did you see? Tiger Woods? Eliot Spitzer? You definitely saw a man, though, didn't you? The idea that sex addiction is exclusively a male problem is so pervasive, and the notion that women could be sex addicts apparently so hard to believe, that questions such as this one can still be asked in all seriousness: "Can women be sex addicts?"

Of course they can, answers Robert Weiss, founding director of the Sexual Recovery Institute, a Los Angeles-based centre that offers sexual addiction treatment.

Approximately 8 to 12 per cent of people seeking sexual addiction treatment are women, but the number of women with the addiction is likely much higher, because women are less likely than men to seek out treatment, according to Mr. Weiss.

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Why do we continue to think only men suffer from sexual addiction? Blame the media, apparently.

"From what the media tells us, sexual addiction is a strictly male problem – or least that is all we seem to hear. Men cheating on their wives, men seeing prostitutes, men going to strip clubs, massage parlours and of course, male politicians sexting online," Mr. Weiss writes.

Nor can it help that the subject has attracted little academic inquiry.

"While we know that women act out additively with food, drugs, alcohol, gambling spending and caretaking, the truth is that there is little to no research on female sex and relationship addiction," he writes.

But let's not pretend the subject has been completely ignored in the past.

Perhaps when people finally accept that women can be sex addicts, more research might actually be done on it.

How commonly do you think some women suffer from sex addiction?

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About the Author

Dave McGinn writes about fitness trends for the Life section and also reports for Globe Arts. Prior to joining the Globe, he was a freelance journalist, covering topics from trying to eat Michael Phelps' diet to why the Joker is the best villain in comics history. He's working on improving his 10k time. More

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