| Tara Langdale

Coitophobia (Fear of Sexual Intercourse) Causes & Treatments

Coitophobia, sometimes called genophobia, is the fear of sexual intercourse. It's more than a simple dislike of sex; it's a condition that can cause irrational fears around any sex or sexual intimacy. The intense fear can become so strong that you avoid romantic relationships at any cost, and even the thought of sexual activity gives you panic attacks. In this guide, we'll discuss the causes, symptoms, and treatments of coitophobia (fear of intercourse).

 

Causes of coitophobia

 

The causes of coitophobia can range from a past traumatic event to a physical concern like pelvic pain. When you can identify the cause of fearing sexual intercourse, you can then work together with a therapist to design a treatment plan right for you.

 

Sexually abused

 

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), in 2002, about 150 million girls and 73 million boys (under 18 years) had experienced some form of sexual violence. (1) The statistics show how prevalent sexual abuse is around the world.

 

What they don't show is how harmful sexual abuse is for the child and the detrimental effects on their well being. After being sexually abused, you may become distrustful of relationships, fearful of sexual contact, and develop anxiety and depression. In some cases, you may become suicidal.

 

Generalized anxiety disorder

 

Generalized anxiety disorder is a type of anxiety disorder. It brings about intense fear and worries about everything from losing your keys to worrying about your sexual performance. It can bring about psychological and physical concerns that overtake one's life and places an unbearable weight on relationships. The fears are usually unrealistic and irrational. (2)

 

Bipolar disorder

 

Bipolar disorder is a type of mental disorder that causes extreme changes in mood. The mental illness can bring about a fear of sex. The person may find sexual intimacy is too painful, embarrassing, or even revolting. Or bipolar can cause the opposite reaction of desiring sex all the time and unable to fully orgasm. (3)

 

Pelvic pain conditions

 

Pelvic pain conditions are more common than people know, and many women around the world experience extreme pain in their pelvic area each year. Sometimes the pain comes and goes and other times the pain is chronic.

 

Some women describe the pain as searing, burning, and stinging. The searing pain can occur in the vulvar area of the vagina (outside of the vaginal opening) and inside the vaginal tissue. There are various types of pelvic pain conditions, including:

 

  • Vaginismus: It’s the automatic muscle contraction of the vaginal walls.
  • Vulvodynia: It’s chronic vaginal pain with no known cause.
  • Dyspareunia: It's painful sex from medical or psychological issues.
  • Radiation therapy: It can cause painful vaginal scar tissue.
  • Vulvar Vestibulitis: It's an extreme pain during vaginal penetration.  

Pelvic pain conditions can result in coitophobia or genophobia. The good news is that the fear of sexual intercourse can is possible to overcome with vaginal dilators.

 

Symptoms of coitophobia

 

Symptoms of coitophobia vary from person to person, but some common signs indicate a fear of intercourse. (4)

 

  • Irrational fears around having sex or becoming intimate
  • Experiencing panic attacks during sexual intimacy
  • Inability to achieve an erection (erectile dysfunction or ED)
  • Mentioning sexual intimacy causes panic
  • Ongoing or intermittent pelvic pain with a known or unknown cause
  • Inability to trust others
  • Living in isolation
  • Struggling with low self-esteem
  • History of abusive relationships
  • Outbursts of intense anger or sadness

Treatments of coitophobia

The fear of sex has different treatment options available. While overcoming your intense anxiety or panic may not happen overnight, trust you're not without help. For some, turning to a sex therapist is helpful or even using vaginal dilators to overcome the fear of penetration.

 

Behavioral therapy 

Behavioral therapy is a term to encompass different types of treatment aimed at changing behavior. An example of behavioral therapy is cognitive-behavioral therapy. During treatment, the therapist helps you view and understand your irrational fears and self-destructive behaviors differently.  (5) Behavioral therapy helps treat all kinds of disorders, from anxiety to coitophobia.

 

Exposure therapy

 

Exposure therapy is a type of psychological treatment designed to help you confront your fears. It’s used to treat all kinds of phobias from social anxiety disorders to coitophobia fear. It works by having the patient relieve the painful or traumatic event or fear and work through it emotionally. (6) You’re “exposed” to the fear, rather than running away or avoiding it.

 

Pelvic floor therapy

 

Being fearful of sexual intimacy is emotional, but it also can have a physical component. If you have explained or unexplained vaginal pain or muscle spasms, you may benefit from pelvic floor therapy.  This proven therapy uses vaginal dilators or vaginal stretchers to help ease and lengthen the vaginal walls. If you've had radiation therapy and your vaginal walls have become thin and dry, penetration may be painful.   

 

Vaginal Dilators

 

Vaginal dilators provide a healing touch for pelvic pain conditions. A vaginal massage can help you overcome the fear of sexual intercourse. Each vaginal dilator set comes in graduated sizes, making treatment as comfortable and pain-free as possible. 

 

Treatment happens in the comfort of your own home at your schedule and pace. It's recommended that you undergo vaginal dilator therapy 2-3 times per week for 20-30 minutes. But you should go at a pace right for you.

 

 

 

Sufferers from coitophobia live each day with an extreme fear of sexual intimacy. It can have a negative impact on all areas of their life. For most people, it’s hard to talk about or even admit. Yet, they’re not alone and help is available. Vaginal dilators may be the answer for helping you to experience the joy of sex without all the pain and worry.


  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4311357/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4311357/
  3. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/324595
  4. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/when-food-is-family/201806/eating-disorder-recovery-the-connection-sex-and-intimacy
  5. https://www.healthline.com/health/behavioral-therapy
  6. https://www.apa.org/ptsd-guideline/patients-and-families/exposure-therapy

 

Other VuVa Helpful Links:

7 Reasons for a Tight Vagina and How to Loosen 

How to use Vaginal Dilators 

How to Relax Vaginal Muscles, Vaginismus & Sex 

Vaginal Stretching - Keeping in Shape with Dilators 

Do Dilators Really Work? Yes, and They can Improve Your Sex Life!

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