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Genophobia: Also known as Coitophobia or Erotophobia

Written by Fern Thompson

What are the causes, effects on living, Triggers, and Treatments

I can hear you all asking what the hell is Genophobia? Well, it is basically something that is never talked about openly, and it’s the Fear of sex or sexual intimacy. This is more than a simple dislike towards it. It’s a condition that can cause intense fear or panic when sexual intimacy is attempted. For some people, even thinking about it can cause these feelings.

It’s not always clear what causes Genophobia, it can be a medical reason, a past experience or due to religious family views.

For example, I suffer with this because I was a victim of sexual assault as a child by my stepdad. It’s left me with chronic PTSD and as a result of being too ashamed to seek help, I have now developed Genophobia.

However, there are no support groups around the North West that I can find to support other sufferers!

It doesn’t always mean you won’t ever be a part of any kind of sexual activity! Most of the time you just need to build a level of trust up with a person! 

This is a very common reason! Most people do feel ashamed or embarrassed or feel like they were at fault so don’t seek help!

Triggers and Symptoms

Some of the symptoms, someone who suffers with Genophobia may feel are:

Like me you could be unfortunate enough to suffer all these symptoms when exposed to the trigger; however, some people may only show a selection of symptoms, either way, it is still very debilitating in daily life.

  • an immediate feeling of fear, anxiety, and panic when exposed to the source of the phobia or even thoughts of the source
  • an understanding that the fear is extreme but, at the same time, an inability to minimize it
  • a worsening of symptoms if the trigger isn’t removed
  • Avoidance of the situation that causes the fear.
  • nausea, dizziness, trouble breathing, heart palpitations, or sweating when exposed to the trigger

Other Phobias relating to Genophobia

There are other phobias related to genophobia that might occur at the same time, these can either be the cause of the Genophobia appearing, or could be developed from Genophobia. These are:

  • nosophobia: fear of getting a disease or virus
  • gymnophobia: fear of nudity
  • heterophobia: fear of the opposite sex
  • coitophobia: fear of intercourse
  • haphephobia: fear of being touched as well as touching others
  • tocophobia: fear of pregnancy or childbirth

A person might also have general fear or anxiety about being emotionally close with another person. Due to trust issues or past experiences, for example. This can then translate into a fear of sexual intimacy.

What can cause Genophobia?

Like I say it’s not just sexual assault that can cause Genophobia, other reasons can also cause fear; these could be health issues such as:

  • Vaginismus. When the muscles of the vagina tense up when vaginal penetration is attempted. This can make intercourse painful or even impossible. It can also interfere with inserting a tampon.
  • Erectile dysfunction. Difficulty obtaining and sustaining an erection. Although it’s treatable, it might lead to feelings of embarrassment, shame, or stress.
  • Past sexual abuse or PTSD. Child abuse or sexual abuse can affect the way you view intimacy or sex, including negative associations with sex. It can also affect sexual functioning.
  • Fear of sexual performance. Some people are nervous about whether they’re “good” in bed. This can cause intense psychological discomfort, leading them to avoid sexual intimacy altogether for fear of embarrassment or poor performance.
  • Body shame or dysmorphia. Being overly self-conscious about the body, can negatively impact sexual satisfaction and cause anxiety.

Treatment for genophobia

If it is a health issue it can be treated a lot easier by visiting your GP! They will be able to treat you accordingly, and treat any pain that you may be suffering; any emotional symptoms can be treated afterwards.

If the cause for your phobia is more of a mental issue then therapy such as psychotherapy or hypnotism have to be shown to be a beneficial treatment.

Treatment such as CBT or Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Exposure Therapy are most likely to be offered.

CBT involves working on and developing alternative ways of thinking about the phobia or situation while also learning techniques to address physical reactions to the trigger. It can be paired with exposure to the feared situation (in a “homework assignment,” for example).

A sex therapist can also be helpful for addressing genophobia. The kind of therapy in individual sessions depends largely on the underlying causes of the phobia and the specific situation.

When to see a Doctor.

There’s a big difference between a fear of sex, because you think the first time will hurt, compared to a phobia of sex! Having Genophobia has a huge negative impact on your personal growth and your life itself! It affects it in so many ways; it can interfere with developing romantic relationships, which then creates feelings of isolation and depression, especially when friends are getting on with their lives, settling down, marriage and kids! Phobias are treatable with therapy and/or medication, depending on the situation.

A doctor can do an exam to see if there is a physical component to your fear of sex, and if so, help treat that. If there is no underlying physical aspect, your doctor can provide you with resources and referrals to therapists who specialize in phobias.

This condition is treatable. It is not something you have to face alone.

Article resources

Mayo Clinic Staff. (2016). Specific phobias.

Mayo Clinic Staff. (2018). Erectile dysfunction.

When sex is painful: FAQ. (2017).

Betrayal of the body: Group approaches to hypo-sexuality for adult female sufferers of childhood sexual abuse. DOI:

Zoldbrod AP. (2014). Sexual issues in treating trauma survivors. DOI:

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