Blog Mental Health Sexual Wellness Fear Of Sex: Symptoms, Causes, And Treatment

Fear Of Sex: Symptoms, Causes, And Treatment

Genophobia, also known as erotophobia, is the fear of sexual intercourse (4). It can be a very debilitating phobia, impacting one’s quality of life and ability to form intimate relationships. People with genophobia often avoid any type of sexual activity and may even refrain from kissing or touching someone they are attracted to.

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Symptoms Of Genophobia

Some of the signs that show you fear sex include (2):

  • Anxiety or panic attacks when thinking about or engaging in sexual activity
  • Avoidance of sexual activity altogether
  • Difficulty becoming aroused or maintaining an erection during sexual activity
  • Performance anxiety during sexual activity
  • Physical symptoms such as sweating, racing heart, or nausea when thinking about or engaging in sexual activity

Causes Of Genophobia

There are several reasons why one may develop a fear of sex:

Medical Conditions

Some medical conditions can cause a person to develop genophobia due to discomfort or inability to engage in sexual activity. Examples of medical conditions that can cause genophobia include (2):

  • Vaginismus: This is a condition that causes the muscles around the vagina to tighten involuntarily, making penetration painful or impossible.
  • Endometriosis: This is a condition in which the tissue that lines the uterus grows outside of the uterus, causing pain and bleeding during sex.
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease: This is an infection of the reproductive organs that can cause pain during sex.
  • Sexually Transmitted Infections: The fear of contracting a sexually transmitted infection (STI) can be a cause of genophobia.
  • Trauma: A bad experience with sex, such as rape or molestation, can cause genophobia. In some cases, the person may have had a traumatic experience involving sexual intercourse, which can lead to PTSD and anxiety around sex.

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fear of sex

Relationship Problems

If you have had negative experiences with relationships in the past, you may be afraid of intimacy.

Self-Esteem Issues

If you don’t feel good about yourself, you may be afraid to let someone else see you naked or engage in sexual activity (3):

  • Anxiety disorders: If you suffer from anxiety disorders, such as social anxiety disorder or agoraphobia, you may be more likely to develop genophobia.
  • Body image issues: If you are unhappy with your body, you may be less likely to want to share it with someone else. 

Other Causes

Other factors that can contribute to the development of genophobia include:

  • Cultural influences: In some cultures, sex is considered taboo, which can lead to a fear of sexual activity.
  • Religious influences: Some religions teach that sex is only for procreation, which can cause a person to avoid it.
  • Media influences: The media often portrays sex in a negative light, which can influence a person’s perception of it.

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Treatment For Genophobia

If you’re experiencing symptoms of genophobia, there are treatment options available. Treatment typically involves exposure therapy and/or medication.

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a type of exposure therapy that can be effective in treating phobias, including genophobia (1).

CBT involves gradually exposing yourself to the object or situation that you’re afraid of. This exposure is usually done in a safe and controlled environment. As you become more comfortable with the object or situation, your fear should start to decrease (1).

Medication may also be prescribed to help reduce anxiety and ease symptoms of genophobia. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are a common type of medication used to treat phobias. SSRIs work by increasing levels of serotonin in the brain, which can help improve mood and relieve anxiety (1).

Read More: 6 Signs Of Mature Sexuality

Bottom Line

If you’re struggling with genophobia, it’s important to seek out professional help. Treatment can be very effective in reducing fear and helping you to live a more normal life.

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This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!


  1. Cognitive behavioral therapy in the treatment of social phobia (2009, 
  2. Female sexual problems II: sexual pain and sexual fears (1999, 
  3. The Relationship Between Self-Esteem and Sexual Self-Concept in People With Physical-Motor Disabilities (2015, 
  4. The treatment of sexual phobias: the combined use of antipanic medication and sex therapy (1982,