Genophobia refers to the fear of sex/sexual intimacy/sexual intercourse. It is also known as coitophobia. People might confuse this type of phobia with a simple or strong dislike towards the sexual intimacy, but this is not the case. Genophobia is a condition which can cause intense fear or panic in the individual when someone attempts for sexual intimacy. Some people might experience the feelings of intense fear or panic even by the thoughts of sex. There is a possibility that individuals may experience other phobias related to genophobia along with the fear of sex as well, such as:-

  • Haphephobia – The fear of being touched as well as touching others. Haphephobia is an uncommon and a rare specific phobia which may also be referred to as “thixophobia” or “aphephobia”.
  • Gymnophobia – An abnormal and persistent fear of nudity. Individuals having gymnophobia experience anxiety of seeing others naked, being seen naked, or both. This type of phobia is derived from the Greek words “gymnos” (which means naked) and “phobos” (which means fear). 
  • Nosophobia – The extreme or irrational fear of getting a disease. This specific phobia is sometimes simply referred to as disease phobia as well. In the context of genophobia, some individuals might experience the fear of developing a sexually transmitted disease or infection along with the fear of sex as well. 
  • Tocophobia – The intense anxiety or fear of pregnancy and childbirth. Tocophobia is derived from the Greek words “tokos” (which means childbirth) and “phobos” (which means fear). 

Symptoms of Genophobia

All types of phobias involve certain reactions that are much more than simply disliking something or being afraid due to something. Literally speaking, phobias include the feelings of intense fear, panic, and anxiety. Certain physical and psychological reactions are caused due to phobias that unbalance the normal functioning of an individual. Phobias affect the interpersonal and intrapersonal relationships of an individual. The feelings of intense fear & anxiety are triggered when the individual faces the event or situation that he/she fears. 

Symptoms of Genophobia include:-

  • Sudden and intense feelings of fear, panic, and anxiety when encountered with the situation or even by its thoughts i.e. the sexual intercourse.
  • Knowing and having an understanding that the fear of sex is unusual & irrational, but at the same time having no idea what to do about it, and the inability to reduce the fear of sex.
  • The symptoms of genophobia get worsened if the source of phobia is not removed.
  • Avoiding the situation of sexual encounter so that the feelings of intense fear, anxiety, and panic are not caused.
  • Trouble in breathing, sweating, dizziness, heart palpitations, or nausea when an individual having genophobia is exposed to a sexual encounter.  

Causes of Genophobia

Causes of Genophobia might include various biological, physical, psychological, and emotional causes such as:-

  • Rape or sexual abuse – Rape or past sexual abuse can cause post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which can affect the way an individual views sex/sexual intercourse leading to negative associations with sex. This might cause the development of genophobia in the survivor. 
  • Sexual Performance Anxiety – Some people develop feelings of nervousness about being good in bed and satisfying their partner. The feelings of nervousness can have a psychological impact on the individual, causing intense fear & anxiety in the individual regarding his/her sexual performance. The sexual performance anxiety may lead to the development of genophobia in order to avoid being ridiculed for poor sexual performance, and embarrassment. 
  • Vaginismus – At times, the muscles of the vagina clench up involuntarily when vaginal penetration is attempted, making sexual intercourse extremely painful or even impossible. This is termed as vaginismus. Females having vaginismus might also experience extreme difficulty in inserting tampon during their periods. Such intense & severe pain can lead to the fear of sexual intercourse and develop genophobia in the individual. Vaginismus is a part of Genito-pelvic pain/penetration disorder. This disorder was previously known as sexual pain disorder consisting of dyspareunia and vaginismus.   
  • Erectile dysfunction – Erectile dysfunction refers to the difficulty in obtaining and sustaining an erection. Although this dysfunction can be treated, but it can cause feelings of stress, embarrassment, or shame in males having erectile dysfunction. If these feelings get too much intense & severe, it can lead to the development of genophobia in the individual. 
  • Cultural and Religious fears
  • Fear of sexually transmitted diseases
  • Body shame or Dysmorphia

Treatment of Genophobia

Genophobia can have a negative impact on an individual’s well-being. Developing romantic relationships can be a great challenge for the individuals having the fear of sex. It can also cause the feelings of depression and isolation. 

The treatment of genophobia greatly depends upon the cause of this type of phobia. Once the underlying cause is identified, it becomes easy for the therapist to decide the kind of therapy and treatment to be used in order to treat genophobia in the individual. Usually various kinds of psychotherapy such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and exposure therapy are a lot beneficial to treat phobias. 

Individuals dealing with genophobia should definitely consult a sexologist or sex therapist in order to overcome their fear.  

Psychologists as mental health care providers plays a major role in understanding biological, behavioural and social factors that influences mental health and physical wellbeing. Dr. (Prof) R K Suri, Senior Clinical Psychologist at Psychowellness Center ( ), is a trained professional clinical psychologist, having more than 36 years of experience in all kinds of mental health issues and related therapeutic interventions. 

Furthermore, TalkToAngel ( ) online mental health services under him put your needs first. They can help you with flexible appointments, personalized and customized intervention plans all at the tip of your fingers.