The definition of paraphilia is any emotional disorder characterised by sexually arousing fantasies, urges, or behaviours that are recurrent, intense, occur over a period of at least six months, and cause significant distress or interfere with the sufferer’s work, social function, or other important areas of functioning.
This is as opposed to sexual variants, which are sexual behaviours that are not typical but are not a part of any illness.
The number of people who suffer from a paraphilia is difficult to gauge for a number of reasons. Many people with one of these disorders suffer in secret or silence out of shame, and some engage in sexually offensive behaviours and so are invested in not reporting their paraphilia.
Therefore, many of the estimates on the prevalence of paraphilic disorders come from the number of people involved with the criminal-justice system due to pedophilia. Most individuals with this sexual deviation are men (3%-5% of the male population), with just 1%-6% of those individuals being women. However, women tend to be under-diagnosed with paraphilias, wrongfully given the benefit of the doubt by those assessing their sexual behaviours.
Except for masochism, which is 20 times more common in women than men, paraphilias are almost exclusively diagnosed in men. Many people who suffer from one paraphilia have more than one.