Genophobia

Genophobia, also known as coitophobia, is the fear of sexual intercourse

Wondering if it's even worth it to try anymore
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Genophobia, also known as coitophobia, is the fear of sexual intercourse. People with this fear may be afraid of all sex acts, or only of intercourse itself. The term genophobia is sometimes used interchangeably with erotophobia, or the fear of sex, but the two conditions are actually different. Genophobia specifically describes fear of the sex act, while erotophobia more generally defines any fear that is related to sexuality.

Genophobia Causes

Like all phobias, genophobia is most likely to develop after a severe trauma. Rape and molestation are the most common triggers for genophobia, and cultural upbringing and religious teachings may also increase the risk for this fear. Genophobia is sometimes linked to insecurities or body image issues, as well as medical concerns. Additionally, genophobia sometimes occurs independently of any identifiable causes.

  • Rape Trauma Syndrome: Rape is a fundamental violation of the victim's body and mind. In the aftermath of rape, virtually all survivors undergo an intense psychological reaction. Although not everyone reacts in the same way, most people follow a loosely organized three-stage path. One way of conceptualizing the journey, from acute trauma through reorganization and finally resolution, is known as rape trauma syndrome. Similar to post-traumatic stress disorder, rape trauma syndrome dramatically elevates the risks for developing related mental health conditions. Phobias most often occur during the reorganization phase, as survivors try to rebuild their lives, although they could develop at any time. The path through rape trauma syndrome is intensely personal, and may take anywhere from months to years to fully resolve.

  • Cultural and Religious Fears: If you are a member of a religious or cultural group that frowns on sexual intercourse, the fact that you follow those teachings does not indicate a phobia. However, phobias can develop when people transition from one set of beliefs and practices to another. Lingering guilt, self-doubt, or fear of breaking the old ways may heighten the risk for phobias.

  • Performance Anxiety: Many people, particularly those who are less sexually experienced, fear that they will be unable to please a partner. Although these fears are generally mild and self-limiting, they can also be more severe. In some cases, performance anxiety can develop into genophobia.

  • Fear of Disease: In the modern world, it would be virtually impossible not to be aware that sexual intercourse carries the risk for numerous diseases, including HIV. Most people are able to successfully balance this risk, using such precautions as condoms, monogamy, and STD testing to bring the risk down to a personally acceptable level. If you suffer from nosophobia, hypochondriasis, cyberchondria, mysophobia, or another related disorder, you may be unable to logically weigh the risks and rewards. You may feel that sex is dangerous and never worth taking even a small chance of infection. Additionally, some people are afraid that sex will be painful.

  • Medical Concerns: Fears that arise from legitimate medical concerns are never considered phobias, as long as the level of fear is proportionate to the situation. Numerous medical conditions, from erectile dysfunction to some heart disorders, make sexual activity difficult, impossible, or even potentially dangerous. Caution and even fear may be prudent in these situations. Nonetheless, some people develop fears that are far out of proportion to the level of risk. For example, if your doctor has cleared you to return to normal activities following a heart attack, it is normal to feel some trepidation before your first post-attack sexual experience. Deciding to forego sexual activity altogether would be a disproportionate reaction in that situation. Always follow your doctor's advice when coping with any medical condition, and seek assistance for any fear that seems unusually severe or long-lasting.

    Coping With the Fear of Sexual Intercourse

    Sex is an important aspect of the human condition, and genophobia can have devastating impacts on those who experience it. Some people choose to live asexual lives, finding meaning and fulfillment outside of sexual experience. However, those who choose asexuality out of fear, rather than clear-headed choice, often find themselves feeling unfulfilled and lonely. Genophobia can also wreak havoc on romantic relationships, particularly if your partner's level of interest in sex differs from your own.

    Genophobia is often treated by sex therapists, who are mental health professionals with advanced training and certification in sexual matters. However, most cases of genophobia can also be treated by traditional therapists without the additional certification. Furthermore, those who experience pain or other medical difficulties during intercourse should seek advice from a medical doctor.

    Battling genophobia is never easy. Many people feel shame or embarrassmentĀ and are reluctant to share such a deeply personal phobia. Yet treatment is generally successful, and the rewards are well worth the difficult and often emotionally painful process.

    Source

    American Psychiatric Association. (1994). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (4th Ed.). Washington, DC: Author.

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