The morbid fear of sex, sexual intimacy or sexual intercourse is known as Genophobia. Another name for this fear is Erotophobia- a term coined from two Greek words Eros-the Greek God of Love and phobos which means deep fear or aversion. The word Genophobia also comes from the Greek words: Genos meaning offspring and phobos or fear.
Most people, men and women, enjoy sex. Sex is a basic human act that allows intimacy and also enables the continuation of species. In case of Genophobic individuals though, the mere thought of getting intimate with someone induces a full blown panic attack. An attempted sexual contact can even bring on symptoms of intense anxiety in the sufferers. Naturally, such patients tend to avoid intimate relationships-ones that are already in a relationship cause a strain on it with their refusal to sex. Life tends to become rather lonely and depressing for such individuals and their phobia might even interfere with their day-to-day routines.
Causes of Genophobia
Genophobia or Erotophobia first became common after the widespread panic about AIDS in the early 1980s. Negative attitudes towards sex and false beliefs about STDs are some of the most common causes of Genophobia.
Scientifically speaking, Genophobia is not classified in the common types of phobias; rather it is presented in other contexts such as sexual dysfunction, Post Traumatic Stress Disorders (PTSD) or even social anxiety disorders.
Personality also plays an important role in the fear of sex phobia in that; Genophobic individuals endorse negative beliefs, expectations and emotional reactions towards physical intimacy.
Lack of knowledge and sex education plays an important role in causing the fear of sex; people with false beliefs about sexually transmitted disease tend to have stigmatizing attitude towards sex. Culture also reinforces these beliefs to an extent.
As the individual experiences fear and guilt about sex, s/he avoids discussions about these matters, causing even more ignorance and vulnerability about getting intimate with someone.
Rape, prior sexual abuse or molestation especially in one’s childhood years can all lead to an intense fear of sex phobia. Childhood cases of molestation lead to insecurity in adulthood. A child may not understand the full implications of what has happened to him/her at that point, but later, as one grows up s/he starts feeling violated or taken undue advantage of. This leads to distrust or lack of dependency on others. Such self reliance can also translate into overall Erotophobia or fear of sex.
Men with erectile dysfunction may also experience the fear of sex. In case of women, painful sex, genital mutilation or certain medical conditions can prevent one from enjoying the sexual act and can suffer Genophobia. In some women, insecurity about their appearance, or the appearance of their private parts, small breasts, dislike of labia etc can also make them Genophobic.
Sometimes, Genophobia may have its roots in other phobias. For example, the intense fear of germs or contracting a disease or a virus or fear of nudity as well as the extreme fear of being touched can all cause Genophobia.
Symptoms of fear of sex phobia
The symptoms of fear of sex or Erotophobia vary from person to person. Most phobics avoid relationships and those who are in one tend to go to extreme lengths to avoid getting intimate with their partner. This can cause a great deal of strain on the relationship. Many end up getting divorced or leading lonely lives. The thought of getting intimate with someone can lead to full blown anxiety attack characterized by following symptoms:
- Rapid, shallow breathing
- Increased heart rate
- The feeling of being choked
- Thoughts of death or dying
- Sweaty palms
- Extreme terror
- Anxiety attack
- Avoidance of relationships
These symptoms of fear of sex can be quite debilitating as they tend to interfere with the phobic’s relationships and can even send him/her into depression.
Treatment for Erotophobia
As is the case with other phobias, there are several methods to treat the fear of sex or the fear of sexual intimacy. It is best not to use strong anxiety medications, since these come with a plethora of side effects and often lead to chemical dependency. In fact; many anxiety/depression medicines have one of their listed side effects as a loss of libido or lack of interest in sex. So, only a trained and qualified expert should look into prescribing such medicines. The aim of drug therapy should also be symptomatic relief from anxiety symptoms. Other forms of treatment should be used in tandem and should focus on treating the root cause of the condition.
First and foremost, it is extremely important that the suffering individual understand that there is no need for shame or embarrassment about her/his condition. This is the first step in treating Genophobia. S/he must be willing to see a psychologist or psychiatrist for treatment. A hypnotherapist can also use techniques like past life regression which are often very helpful in such cases. Other modern methods of treating Genophobia include NLP or neuro linguistic programming and gradual desensitization. Both these methods can help eliminate fear of sex phobia from its root.