| Tara Langdale
There is a name for when you’re afraid of sexual intercourse, or sexual intimacy: genophobia, or erotophobia. Note that there is a difference between disliking or being averse to sex and actually having a fear of sex. If you have feelings of panic or dread at the prospect of sex, you probably fall into this category. Perhaps you experience fear or anxiety about getting close emotionally with another person. If so, it is quite common for fear of sex to develop too.
Sometimes the fear of sex has been present for so long that it feels like ‘just a part of life’. It is even common for women to be unsure of what set this fear off in the first place. Why do you have a fear of sex? If you’re not quite sure of the answer, perhaps our article can shed some light.
Common reasons for fear of sex (genophobia)
Your fear of sexual intimacy may stem from physical or emotional issues, including:
- Vaginismus or vulvodynia
Vaginismus is a recognized genito–pelvic pain and penetration disorder. If you feel anxiety about having sex and find that as a result your vagina clamps shut, you may want to see your Doctor for a vaginismus diagnosis. Women with vaginismus have little control over the contractions in their vaginal muscles, which can make sex difficult, impossible, or very painful.
Vulvodynia is chronic pain condition in which you might feel discomfort or severe pain in or around the opening of your vagina, or deep within the vagina – especially during sex. Although there is no definitive cause, it is associated with the brain misinterpreting even light pressure to the nerve endings in the vagina. Even the lightest touch can lead to pain, burning or irritation and the condition can last for months or even years. If you feel pain when you are touched down there, you may well develop a fear of sex.
- A history of sexual abuse
Women who have suffered sexual abuse as a child or even later in life are much more likely to become afraid of sex. Sexual traumas such as rape can even cause post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which can leave you with flashbacks and negative associations with sexual intimacy. Quite often it takes counseling or sex therapy to overcome these deep-rooted psychological issues and resume a normal sex life.
- Performance anxiety
Feelings of inadequacy in the bedroom are all too common. There could be any number of reasons why you worry that you’re not good at sex, from unsuccessful sexual encounters to general feelings of insecurity. Sometimes even holding a sexual partner in such high regard that you worry about disappointing them can lead to performance anxiety.
If you are primarily concerned with how your sexual partner is going to perceive you, this could be the reason for your genophobia. If so, it is important to find a way to overcome this, because it can become a vicious cycle and self-fulfilling prophecy in that if you can’t relax into the moment you won’t enjoy yourself and your partner may well sense this.
- Body dysmorphia
Body dysmorphia is the name for when you have a negative perception of your physical body. It is usually accompanied by feelings of shame and the certainty that you are physically or sexually unattractive. Such heightened feelings of self-consciousness often stem from emotional issues and ingrained feelings of inadequacy.
You may well be convinced that everyone sees your body this way, but it is rarely true – you are likely to find that you are your own biggest critic, but it’s another matter entirely to accept this. Unfortunately it is a damaging form of self-loathing that almost inevitably leads to fear of sex, as you won’t want to expose yourself to somebody you find attractive for fear of rejection.
Whatever the reason for your fear of sex, it is important to find a way to overcome it. It is human nature to want to connect with others sexually, and to procreate, so fear of sex and abstinence from intercourse can lead to further emotional and psychological issues if left unresolved. It can also get in the way of healthy relationships. Although it may seem insurmountable, overcoming fear of sexual intercourse may not be as difficult as it seems. Check our blog for more advice on this topic!
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