| Tara Langdale
The definition of erotophobia is the fear of any sexual intimacy. It encompasses a wide range of specific phobias that cause intense fear of sex and sexual dysfunction. Erotophobia is a complex issue that may cause sufferers to experience more than one kind of sexual anxiety. If left untreated, the negative emotions cause untold damage to relationships and mental health. The person may isolate themselves and avoid any intimate contact with possible love connections, close friends, and family.
Types of Erotophobia
Erotophobia varies in type and intensity. For some, it's a simple dislike, and for others, the negative associations cause extreme panic when sexual intimacy is attempted.
Genophobia or coitophobia: It's the fear of sexual intercourse. The fear of sex is irrational and causes avoidance of intimate relationships. The person may be romantically involved but avoids sexual activities at any cost.
Fear of intimacy: One phobia related to genophobia is the fear of intimacy. For those fearful of sexual intimacy, it may include any affection from holding hands to kissing. Even people even thinking about sexual images or the thought of sex brings up deep-rooted fear.
Haphephobia: For those with this phobia, it involves the fear of touch. The sufferer doesn't like touch at all and recoils from any physical affection. For men, this may cause erectile dysfunction (ED).
- Gynophobia: It involves being afraid of being naked. The condition may cause deep body shame, fear of seeing others, and themselves naked.
Causes of erotophobia
The variance in the phobias connected to erotophobia makes it more difficult to pinpoint a purpose. In some circumstances, the reason for the intense fear or panic can't be identified.
Past sexual abuse
Sexual abuse can happen at any age. It's any sexual contact that isn't consensual. In the United States, roughly 1 in 10 girls are sexually abused before the age of 18. (1) Sexual abuse victims carry life-long issues that may cause intense sexual dysfunction. Most of the time, victims knew their sexual abusers before the abuse began, making the damage even harder to overcome. The negative impacts may include the following:
- A deep-seated fear of sexual intimacy
- Distrustful of people
- Suicidal thoughts
- Fear and anxiety
- Angry outbursts
Generalized anxiety disorder
One condition that can cause erotophobia is a generalized anxiety disorder. This condition makes you worry about everything in your life, from waking up on time to your sexual performance in bed.
Generalized anxiety causes irrational fears that are unrealistic. People can become extremely scared of sexual relationships and begin to isolate themselves.
Bipolar disorder is also referred to as manic-depressive illness or manic depression. It's a mental health disorder that causes extreme shifts in energy, mood, and activity levels. At times, the individual is unable to concentrate and complete daily tasks. It can also cause a fear of sexual behavior and having intimacy with others.
Learned negative response
According to a study published in the Journal of Sex, erotophobia may be a learned behavior from growing up in a restrictive household that taught the fear of sex and any sexual exploration met with punishment. For example, men and women growing up in an extremely religious household that viewed anything related to sex as immoral. Over time these past experiences could cause fear or anxiety around sexual intimacy. (4)
Pelvic pain conditions
Fearing sex or sexual intimacy may come from having chronic pelvic pain. This issue is more prevalent than you believe, and for some reason, the reason for the daily pain and discomfort has no source. Below are common types of pelvic pain conditions.
Vulvodynia is when a woman has pain in the vulva region of the vagina. The vulvar is right at the opening of the vagina, and the pain can have a trigger, such as a touch or pressure, or be ongoing.
If you have painful pelvic muscle spasms, you may have vaginismus. The cause of the involuntary contractions may have a source or unknown.
Dyspareunia is a health condition that causes pain during sexual intercourse. The reason may be psychological or medical.
Treatments & Overcoming Erotophobia
There are different treatments for overcoming erotophobia. The type of treatment ideal for you depends on the advice of your health professional and symptoms. It's important to remember that overcoming erotophobia may take time for the healing process to be complete.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of treatment that helps you identify the cause and reasons for your issues or intense fear and see them differently. During CBT, you begin to understand your irrational beliefs and self-destructive tendencies. By facing these negative emotions, you can hopefully work through the specific phobia, such as erotophobia. (5)
Vaginal dilators or vaginal trainers are tube-shaped devices recommended by doctors and physical therapists to help people overcome pelvic pain. Pelvic pain can have an emotional, psychological, or physical component. When you're experiencing uncomfortable or searing pelvic pain, you may start to have negative associations with sex. Or perhaps, past trauma has linked pain with sex.
Thousands of women have turned to vaginal dilators as a non-invasive way to stretch and lengthen a tight vagina. As you work with the vaginal dilator, your pelvic muscles begin to expand and relax as you move freshly oxygenated blood into your vagina tissues. Vaginal dilators can help with many pelvic pain conditions, including:
- Vulvodynia (pain around vaginal entrance)
- Dyspareunia (pain during sexual intercourse)
- Vaginismus (uncontrollable muscle spasms)
- Shortened vagina from undergoing menopause or radiation treatment
- Vaginal atrophy (extreme dryness)
Everyone deserves a healthy sex life. When you have erotophobia, you may avoid romantic relationships and affection of any kind. As social beings, we need love and friendship from significant others. Therapy and vaginal dilators can help you overcome erotophobia.