Genophobia – Fear of Sex Causes, Treatment

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Introduction to Genophobia

Genophobia refers to the fear of sex/sexual intimacy/sexual intercourse. It is also known as coitophobia. You might confuse this type of phobia with a simple or strong dislike towards sexual intimacy, but this is not the case. Genophobia is a condition that can cause intense fear or panic in you when someone attempts sexual intimacy. Some might experience feelings of intense fear or panic even by the thoughts of sex. There is a possibility that you 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 that 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 simply referred to as disease phobia. 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 Fear of Sex

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 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 encounters 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 or Fear of Sex

Fear of sex causes 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. 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 vaginismus. Females having vaginismus might also experience extreme difficulty in inserting tampons 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, it can cause feelings of stress, embarrassment, or shame in males having erectile dysfunction. If these feelings get too 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 or Fear of Sex

Genophobia can have a negative impact on an individual’s well-being. Developing romantic relationships can be a great challenge for individuals having the fear of sex. It can also cause 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 play a major role in understanding biological, behavioral, and social factors that influence mental health and physical wellbeing. Dr. (Prof) R K Suri, the 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.

Recommended reads for you:

Paraphilic Disorder: Signs, Symptoms, and Causes

Sexual Dysfunction is not a Taboo

Merits and Demerits of Going To Bed Angry

How Psychological Assistance Help Sextortion Victims

Depression Affecting Sexual Inadequacy


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