Fear of Sex: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment

The fear of sex or erotophobia is a general term that encompasses a wide range of fears specific. It is generally understood to include any phobia that is related to sex. Erotophobia is often complex, and many people who suffer from it have more than one specific fear.

Untreated erotophobia can be devastating and can lead sufferers to avoid not only romantic relationships but other forms of intimate contact as well.


Specific phobias

Like any phobia, erotophobia varies dramatically in both symptoms and severity. It is a very personalized fear, and no two people experience it in the same way. You may recognize some of your own fears from this list.

Genophobia: Also known as coitophobia, it is the fear of sexual relations. Many people with genophobia are capable of initiating romantic relationships, and may enjoy activities such as kissing and hugging, but are afraid of moving on to a more physical display of affection.

Fear of intimacy: The fear of intimacy is often, but not always, rooted in the fear of abandonment or its twin, the fear of engulfment.

Those who fear intimacy are not necessarily afraid of the sexual act itself, but of the emotional closeness it can bring.

Gymnophobia: The fear of nudity is often complex. Some people are afraid of being naked, others of being naked around them.

Fear of vulnerability: Like fear of intimacy, fear of vulnerability is often linked to fear of abandonment or fear of being swallowed up.

Many people are afraid that if they are totally themselves, others will not like them.

You may also be interested in reading: Fear Of The Church: Definition, Types, Symptoms, Treatments

Causes of fear of sex

As a highly personalized fear, erotophobia can have myriad causes. In some cases, it may be difficult or impossible to identify a specific cause. However, some people may be at higher risk due to past or current events in their lives.

Sexual abuse: Although not all people with erotophobia have been raped or sexually abused, those who have been traumatized are at a higher risk of developing some form of erotophobia.

Other Injuries: People who have experienced major trauma are at increased risk of developing disorders of anxiety , including phobias .

If the trauma was physical, you are more likely to develop touch-related erotophobia, while those who have experienced psychological or emotional abuse may be more likely to develop intimacy or fears related to vulnerability.

Personal, cultural and religious customs: Although many religions and societies disapprove of sexual relations other than procreation, following these restrictions does not constitute a phobia.

However, many people experience difficulties trying to balance past and current beliefs. If you have moved away from a restrictive background but are afraid of changing past thought and action patterns , you may be at risk of developing a phobia.

Performance anxiety: Sometimes, it’s not really sex that we fear at all. Instead, we can worry about our own ability to please a partner.

Performance anxiety is particularly common in those who are young or inexperienced, but it can occur at all ages and levels of experience.

Physical Concerns: Some people worry that sex will hurt them. Some wonder if they will be able to function due to a physiological condition. Fears that have a legitimate medical basis are not considered phobias.

However, some people experience fears that are out of proportion to the reality of the situation. If your fear is inappropriate for the current risks, you could have a phobia.


Because erotophobia is so complex, professional treatment is usually required. Sex therapists are licensed mental health professionals who have completed additional training and certification, and many people feel that they are the best option for treating their sexual concerns.

However, it is generally not necessary to seek a sex therapist, as most mental health professionals are able to control erotophobia.

Erotophobia generally responds well to treatment, although complex erotophobia can take time and effort to resolve. Depending on the style and school of thought of your therapist, you may have to face difficult and painful memories to heal and move on.

Because the nature of fear is so personal, it is critical that you find a therapist with whom you really feel comfortable.

Although overcoming erotophobia is never easy, most people find that the rewards are worth the effort. Be patient with yourself and honest with your therapist. Over time, your fears will diminish and you can learn to enjoy your personal range of sexual expression.

Georgia Tarrant
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Hello, how are you? My name is Georgia Tarrant, and I am a clinical psychologist. In everyday life, professional obligations seem to predominate over our personal life. It's as if work takes up more and more of the time we'd love to devote to our love life, our family, or even a moment of leisure.