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Sex phobia (erotophobia): causes, symptoms and treatment

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Sex is one of the greatest pleasures that the human being can experience, and it is beneficial not only on a physical level, but to promote well-being. However, some people suffer from a great fear of sex and sexuality, what is known as erotophobia or sex phobia.

Erotophobia is an irrational fear of everything that has to do with sex and sexuality, and it is a complex disorder whose symptoms can vary from one individual to another. Some feel a great fear of coming into contact with sexual objects, others are terrified of sexual intimacy and others of penetration. People with this phobia may experience high doses of fear of any type of sexual act or the possibility of becoming intimate with another person.

  • Related article: "Types of Phobias: Exploring Fear Disorders"

Types of sex phobia

Regarding irrational fear, the anxiety and avoidance that people with erotophobia experience, the object or situation that causes the phobia can vary from case to case, as well as its severity.

Erotophobia is a complex disorder which includes other specific sexual phobias. They are the following.

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1. Genophobia

Also known as coitophobia, refers to irrational fear and spikes in stress before sexual intercourse. Individuals with this pathology can initiate romantic relationships, enjoy activities such as kisses or hugs, but feel great fear of sexual intercourse and penetration.

2. gymnophobia

It is also called nodophobia. is the fear of nudity. It is a complex disorder in which people are afraid of being naked and that the people around them are.

This fear may indicate body image issues or feelings of inadequacy, although it can also occur as a result of a traumatic experience.

3. fear of intimacy

This fear has nothing to do with the sexual act, but with the fact that feel close to the other person both emotionally and physically.

4. paraphobia

The fear of sexual perversion is also a complicated phobia. Some people are afraid of perverting themselves, while others are afraid of the perversions of others.

Some people with paraphobia are able to enjoy traditional sexual relationships that fit well within their personal moral code, while others fear that any form of intimacy could be perverted

5. Haphephobia

This phobia is characterized by the fear of physical contact, that is, to be touched, and often affects all relationships, not just those of a romantic nature. Some people experience it with minimal contact, while others experience it with longer contact.

6. phobia of vulnerability

Like the extreme fear of intimacy, the fear of vulnerability is often linked to the fear of abandonment. Many people they are afraid to show themselves as they are, because they believe that this way they will not like others. Fear of vulnerability can affect many relationships, both sexual and non-sexual.

7. Philemaphobia

Also known as philematophobia, it is fear of kisses. It can have many causes and is often linked to physical concerns, such as a worry about bad breath or even a germ phobia.

Causes of sex phobia

Sex and sexuality are very important aspects of the human condition, and erotophobia can have a devastating impact in those who experience it. Some people who suffer from this phobia choose to live their lives asexually, that is, without having sexual relations. and others have serious difficulties maintaining intimate relationships with other people in a satisfactory.

Generally, the cause of this phobia is associative learning or classical conditioning what happens when a person experience a traumatic event related to sex and sexuality, for example, having suffered a bad sexual experience in the past or for having been teased about the size of their genitals (in the case of men).

Now, irrational beliefs and poor sexual education can also cause the person to develop this phobia. Some authors claim that some people are more likely than others to develop this type of pathology due to genetics.

  • You may be interested: "Vaginismus: causes, symptoms and possible solutions"

Symptoms of erotophobia

Due to the variety of phobic disorders related to sex and sexuality, the object or situation that causes the phobia can vary. However, the symptoms are usually the same:

  • Intense fear of objects, situations and thoughts related to sex and sexuality.
  • extreme anxiety in the presence of the object or situation that causes the phobia or towards the thoughts or images of it.
  • Avoidant behaviors.
  • Sensation of shortness of breath and hyperventilation.
  • hypersweating
  • Dry mouth.
  • Disorientation and lack of concentration.
  • tension in the muscles.
  • Anguish.
  • Fast heartbeat and increased heart rate.
  • Upset stomach and headache.


Phobias are common disorders and there are many types of phobic disorders. But even though the objects or situations that cause these phobias are different, the procedure is usually similar in most cases.

On the other hand, since sex is a very important part of a person's life and usually also affects relationships, treatment usually includes a booster to improve self-esteem and correct those beliefs that interfere with the patient's well-being.

Patients with some type of phobia respond well to psychotherapy, and scientific studies indicate that cognitive behavioral therapy it is really useful for treating this disorder. The relaxation techniques and exposure techniques are the most used.

An exposure technique that has proven to be really effective in the treatment of phobias is systematic desensitization, which gradually exposes the patient to sexual situations that he fears while at the same time giving him adaptive tools to deal with the stimulus phobic In addition to cognitive behavioral therapy, hypnosis, or Mindfulness have also been shown to be effective.

In extreme cases, that is, those in which the patient suffers from great anxiety, drugs can be used. However, always combined with psychological therapy and never as the only therapeutic option.

"Apps" for the treatment of phobias

Today, new technologies are part of all areas of our lives. We can buy online, study at distance universities and even receive online therapy.

What's more, the mobile also serves as an aid or therapeutic tool in the case of phobias, there are different "apps" that help patients with phobic disorder through virtual reality or augmented reality.

  • You can learn more about these applications in this article: “8 apps to treat phobias and fears from your smartphone

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