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How Genophobia or Fear of Sexual Intercourse Feels Like?

How Genophobia or Fear of Sexual Intercourse Feels Like?

Updated on Jul 06, 2022

Reviewed by Dr. Nereida Gonzalez-Berrios, MD , Certified Psychiatrist

Genophobia - Meaning, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Causes, Treatment & More

Key Takeaways

  • Genophobia is an irrational and persistent fear of sexual intercourse.
  • The fear is intense and not just a simple case of dislike and disgust.
  • A feeling of terror, danger, pain and aversion to sexual intimacy is common in genophobia.
  • The condition causes symptoms of extreme panic and discomfort even with the thought of performing a sexual act.
  • Genophobia causes physical and psychological symptoms that tend to get worse if left as it is.
  • Cognitive Behavior Therapy and Exposure therapy are the best treatment methods for genophobia.

Are you scared of falling in love just because your partner wants to get physically intimate with you? Do you avoid talking to your partner about sexual pleasure, love-making, and related topics? 

Are you ashamed of your body and feel insecure about how your partner sees you in times of an intimate moment? If all these and much more are bothering you for a long time, you must be suffering from a specific phobia known as genophobia.

This is an anxiety disorder that causes extreme levels of fear, disgust, and aversion to sexual relations.

The person will deliberately avoid sexual intimacy and live in isolation. As a result, relationships take a backseat.

The person suffers immensely when it comes to maintaining an intimate relationship with the partner.

The level of fear is immense and causes terror and dread. It involves various physical symptoms as well, enough to make the person feel sick and tired.

In this article, we will talk more about this phobic reaction.

Continue reading….

Genophobia Infographics

Genophobia - Meaning, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Causes, Treatment & More
Genophobia – Meaning, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Causes, Treatment & More
Genophobia - Meaning, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Causes, Treatment & More
Genophobia – Meaning, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Causes, Treatment & More

Genophobia – meaning

Genophobia is the severe and extraordinary fear associated with sexual intercourse. It displays signs of intense anxiety, disgust for sexual activity, and aversion to the idea of physical intimacy.

Genophobia refers to the intense irrational fear of sexual intercourse. It is much more pervasive than just a normal aversion or dislike.

People who suffer from this fear might be afraid of indulging in all kinds of sexual acts.

This condition can result in intense panic within an individual, whenever one tends to initiate sexual intimacy with them.

This specific phobia is commonly seen in women, though men can also have this problem.

One can use this term interchangeably with Erotophobia, even though there is a subtle difference between the two conditions. 

While in Genophobia, a person suffers from the fear of sexual intimacy or intercourse, Erotophobia refers to an aversion towards sexuality and not on sexual acts alone.

Genophobia is also known as coitophobia. It’s a Greek term coming from two separate words, ‘Genos’ meaning offspring and ‘Phobos’ meaning fear.

People with genophobia report anxiety, worry, and negative thoughts related to the act of intercourse.

Their fear ranges from thoughts of pain and suffering to a yucky feeling that is related to the intimate procedure.

Genophobia symptoms

Each individual tends to experience different symptoms of Genophobia. Like any other phobia, the dreadful feeling that one has towards sexual acts is completely out of proportion.

One can even look at it as one of the several types of anxiety disorders.

There is a possibility that a person might not come across symptoms unless they come in contact with this sex phobia. There are some who might have this problem simply by thinking about it. 

The symptoms can be physical as well as psychological, each having their impact on your daily life. 

Physical Symptoms

There are various kinds of physical symptoms that can arise among gynophobic people. They not only severely impact your health but also hamper your lifestyle to a great extent.

Following are some of the physical symptoms of Genophobia –


When people suffer from Genophobia, the extreme fear can make you feel as if you would soon faint. Your whole body might feel heavy, whereas your head may not get sufficient blood. 

You can struggle to keep your balance and also have distorted vision.


The thought of getting into sexual intercourse with your partner can make your heart beat faster than normal. 

This anxiety disorder can make you feel an unusual kind of restlessness, where you do not know how to react.

Chest Tightness

Chest tightness is another common symptom of Genophobia. In this situation, you feel a tremendous amount of heaviness or pressure in the chest. 

The discomfort can even lead you to suffer from shortness of breath. 

When you become too anxious and keep thinking about something, this problem of chest tightness can crop up.


Sweating usually happens in response to stress or fear. It is the reason why you can see individuals sweating profusely, making a part of the physical symptom of anxiety. 

This can lead to another problem, which might see an individual suffer from dehydration.

Hot and Cold Flashes

Anxiety or a panic attack out of Genophobia can even make you experience hot flashes and cold chills from time to time. 

It is quite similar to the ones you face when you suffer from fever. You shudder to think of lying naked and having sex with someone.

Breathing Problems

When you suffer from the issue of chest tightness from this fear of sexual intercourse, another problem can emerge out of it. You can sense that you are gasping to catch your breath.

In Genophobia, you can undergo this problem especially when you feel that someone wants to have sex with you.


When you think of sexual intimacy, it might make you undergo the feeling of nausea. You could get overwhelmed when you confront with the probability of sexual intercourse.

Feeling of Numbness

Another common physical symptom of Genophobia is numbness. Numbness refers to a situation in which you suffer from a lack of sensation.

You do not feel anything on your limbs and make others get the feeling as if you have become paralyzed.

Psychological Symptoms

Suffering from this phobia can give rise to psychological symptoms, which can adversely affect your entire social life. 

The fear of sex can even make women wary of all those men who might showcase a different level of intimacy.

You would always live under the intense fear when it might take a turn towards sexual intimacy, resulting in sexual intercourse. 

There might not even be a semblance of chance that this could happen but this irrational fear of sex makes you think on these lines.

Let us discuss the psychological symptoms in brief:

Find Excuses for not Having Sex

A person suffering from Genophobia might give different reasons or excuses not to have sex with their partner.

She might say that she does not have the mood to give him optimum sexual satisfaction or she is not feeling well.

Avoid Meeting People of Opposite Sex

Avoidance behavior is one of the most common psychological symptoms of this problem. The apathy towards sexual intercourse can make you avoid people of the opposite sex.

This constant irrational fear can make you think illogically. You can avoid men for the fear of being touched. You could also feel that some men forcefully engage them in sexual acts.

Lack of Control

All those people who suffer from Genophobia can have a feeling to suggest as if they are not in control of their lives.

They always fear that others can easily influence them to do something that they do not want. In this case, it relates to sexual intercourse.

Avoid Watching Movies Showing Sex

This problem of Genophobia can even make you avoid watching all those movies where there are sex scenes. 

Seeing a couple making out in movies, deriving sexual pleasure can even lead to a fear of something similar happening to you in real life. 

Diagnosis of genophobia

Genophobia is a type of anxiety disorder and falls under the category of specific phobias in DSM – 5. The symptoms of the patient are medically reviewed before an official diagnosis is done.

The person has to suffer from the illness for at least 6 months before being officially diagnosed with genophobia.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) considers genophobia as a persistent and acute fear response that a person shows with regard to sexual intercourse.

The diagnostic criteria show the symptoms of genophobia as:

  • Persistent fear in response to actual sexual threat
  • Fear of performance
  • Body shaming tendency
  • Avoiding sexual acts at all costs
  • Intense fear is displayed 
  • Inability to minimize the fear response by any means
  • Thoughts of sexual intercourse can trigger a similar fear response as the real threat
  • The condition worsens over time if not treated
  • Constant avoiding of the situation that might trigger the fear response
  • The phobia should be present for at least 6 months or more
  • The fear is not due to any other medical or mental health conditions

Genophobia causes

You are most likely to suffer from Genophobia after having undergone severe trauma. Molestation and rape are the most common reasons that trigger this fear among women. 

Sometimes, it is also connected to some insecurity related to the image of your body or whether you will manage to completely satisfy your partner in bed.

Let us now briefly discuss some of the causes of Genophobia-

Rape or physical trauma

Sexual assaults or rape can result in a woman suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. 

This rape trauma syndrome can lead to various types of sexual dysfunctions. And one of which is to connect negatively with sexual acts. 

This might cause an individual, especially women to develop the fear of having sexual intercourse.

Thinking of the forceful act of sexual penetration can shatter a woman’s confidence and make them fearful of sexual intercourse even in the future.

Previous Sexual Abuse

Any sort of sexual abuse can result in the occurrence of PTSD or post-traumatic stress disorders.

It can severely impact the way you look at sex. The whole sexual functioning can become distorted.

Even though every single survivor of sexual abuse does not develop the fear of sexual intercourse or PTSD, it can become a significant part of someone’s fear regarding sex.


Vaginismus refers to a condition in which the vaginal muscles contract involuntarily whenever one attempts a vaginal penetration. This issue can make sexual intercourse extremely painful. 

Sexual intercourse is an act of pleasure between couples, but when vaginismus makes it impossible, it leads to the fear of sex.

Under those circumstances, rather than sex being an act of pleasure and sensuality, it becomes an activity that you would rather avoid.

Anxious of Sexual Performance

Some become nervous thinking whether they are good in bed or not. They fear whether they will manage to provide great sexual pleasure to their partners.

Men can become anxious thinking if there is premature ejaculation while having sex with their partner.

One can say that a woman is performing well in bed if she moans with pleasure and encourages her man for intense sex. 

She becomes anxious if something like this does not happen while having sex. Both men and women also think they find it difficult to orgasm during sexual intercourse.

All these negative thoughts related to sexual performance can create severe psychological discomfort. This, in turn, leads them to avoid sexual intercourse for the fear of getting ridiculed.

Erectile Dysfunction

ED or Erectile Dysfunction refers to the difficulty men face in obtaining an erect penis and sustaining the same for some time.

Even though the problem is curable, it can result in intense shame and a tremendous feeling of embarrassment.

You might not want to discuss this problem with your partner, but it can come in the way of your sexual intimacy. Thus, it might result in Genophobia.


Dysmorphia is nothing but the shame you feel of your body structure and how you look. You become so self-conscious about the same that can negatively impact your sexual life.

Shedding clothes before making out with your partner in bed can make you anxious as you do not want your partner to ridicule your body structure.

You might get ashamed of your small breasts and suffer from the misconception that your man would love to fondle with your big boobs.

Similarly, a man might feel awkward about his small penis. He can suffer from a pre-conceived notion that his partner might prefer a bigger one for utmost pleasure during sexual intercourse. 

This makes them avoid sexual intercourse as much as possible.

Female circumcision

Research findings support the idea that circumcised women revealed more intense signs of anxiety and depression than those who were not circumcised.

These women also showed signs of fear of sex in general. 

They felt insecure in relationships and had low self-esteem. Most circumcised women also had decreased levels of sexual functions like a reduced orgasm, more pain, etc.

Fear of sex – Men vs. women

Fear of sex is not as uncommon as it seems to appear in a social structure. Maybe, sex is a taboo topic, and people are not comfortable talking about it. 

The prevalence rate for men and women has shown that there are more women sufferers than men.

According to a research finding, 12.2% of females in the United States suffered from a specific phobia in their lifetime as compared to only 5.8% of males.

A health survey done on sexual dysfunction and genophobia has shown that women are more likely to suffer from this illness than men. 

Impact of Genophobia

The extent of this problem of Genophobia can vary from showing mild to extreme symptoms. No matter what, it will always have a major impact on your life.

Some of the problems you might face, if you do not undergo medical advice, diagnosis or treatment, are as follows:

  • It can affect your romantic relationships negatively.
  • If a wife does not receive sexual pleasure from her husband, or vice versa, it can result in extra-marital affairs. 
  • The unmet sexual need of one of the partners can go to such an extent that they might not hesitate to engage in masturbation or other related methods to self satisfy themselves.
  • All these can create differences in the life of a couple or even in the relationship between a boyfriend and girlfriend.
  • Genophobia can make individuals suffer from isolation and depression.
  • People can even resort to drinking and drug abuse to get rid of frustration.
  • Feelings of self-doubt may creep in.
  • Genophobic people suffer from low self-esteem.
  • They remain bothered about their body image.
  • Genophobia restricts social intimacy and making new friends.
  • The sufferer may feel like a victim of fear.
  • Feelings of insecurity and vulnerability stop them from getting married and starting a family life.

Genophobia and its association with other phobias

In clinical psychiatry, genophobia can be associated with other sex-related phobias also. Some of the other fear responses are as follows:

  • Haphephobia – the fear and discomfort of physical touch in intimate relationships
  • Eurotophobia – fear of genital organs
  • Gymnophobia – the fear of nudity
  • Philophobia – fear of falling in love
  • Phallophobia – fear of masculine features or male sexual organs

When to see a doctor?

Living with genophobia is not easy because it affects almost all walks of a person’s life. The decision to visit a doctor depends upon the severity and duration of the illness.

If the genophobia symptoms are fast worsening and are causing a lot of problems in a personal relationship, then the person should seek immediate help from a mental health professional.

Seeking medical advice at the right time is a handy way to deal with the issue. The therapist helps the client resolve past trauma and emotional healing can take place.

The doctor can prescribe medicines to reduce the physical symptoms of anxiety. Moreover, they can also help the patient to develop good coping skills to manage the symptoms of phobia well.

Treatment of Genophobia

If you are facing the problem of Genophobia, it is ideal for you to get in touch with a sex therapist.

He is a mental health professional but carries an advanced level of training and certification in matters related to sex.

Genophobia is treated just like any other phobia. Psychotherapy becomes the need of the hour.

CBT or Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Exposure Therapy are a couple of techniques used in Psychotherapy for resolving this issue. 

Other than this, there are several other options available to take care of this sex phobia.

Let us briefly go through those techniques that are used for the treatment of Genophobia, which can help you enjoy a healthy sex life in the future.

1. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

CBT or Cognitive Behavioral Therapy involves a therapist who would work with you to develop different ways to think about this phobia. 

He or she will also make the patient learn new techniques to rectify various physical reactions occurring out of the trigger.

It may also require exposing yourself to become intimate with your partner sexually, to come out of this phobia.

2. Exposure Therapy

The APA or the American Psychological Association has defined exposure therapy as one type of psychotherapy that aims to engage a patient in the act that results in the phobia. 

The person is gradually exposed to the fear element, responses are noted, and feedback is given to the patient to remove the phobia.

The therapist aims to make a patient confront their fears in a secure environment, with the hope that the individual would overcome them. 

This is done through VRET, also known as Virtual Reality exposure therapy. This is intended to be a substitute for real-life exposures. 

The patient is shown pictures or video clippings of the feared stimuli.

In genophobic patients, the therapist can show clippings of sexual intimacy, moments of intercourse, and the enjoyment associated with lovemaking.

3. Vaginal Dilators

Genophobic women, who suffer from acute pain from vaginal penetration during sexual intercourse, or while inserting a tampon, the menstrual product, may experience relief from using vaginal dilators.

Vaginal dilators are completely safe and effective in helping women to slowly stretch and lengthen their vaginal tissue. 

It would automatically ease out the pain that the person may currently feel while having vaginal penetration.

4. Hypnotherapy

It involves a safe entry into a relaxed state and challenges all kinds of inhibitions, unconscious beliefs that remain embedded inside an individual. They all prevent you from enjoying sex. 

A therapist can help you come out of these beliefs and broaden thought patterns to make you understand the benefits and necessity of sex in your life.

How to get over the fear of sex? (Self-help tips)

Sex is an integral part of married life. This modern era is filled with super-hot and steamy manuals containing erotic pictures and videos to make things spicy in the bedroom.

Now, the fun and excitement can take a backseat, if you or your partner suffers from the fear of Genophobia or sexual intercourse. 

The fear of seeing oneself nude in front of their partner can deny someone from enjoying the pleasure of sex.

It can adversely affect your relationship and thus go on to hamper your married life.

The good thing is that every problem has a solution; similarly, people with Genophobia can overcome this irrational fear of sex simply by following some self-help tips.

The tips are as follows:

1. Engage in Sex Education

  • People usually feel scared of all those things about which they do not have any knowledge. The same thing applies to all those who suffer from Genophobia.
  • Hence, try to get proper sex education by understanding the human body’s anatomical structure including the male and female sex organs.
  • You must go through the stages of sexual experience, starting from excitement, plateau, orgasm, and finally resolution.
  • It would help you stay in complete control of the situation.

2. Talk to Your Partner

  • There is always a possibility that your partner might interpret your apathy towards sex as apathy towards him or her. Talk to them clearly and help them get rid of their misconception.
  • You can express your emotions and feelings, hence making your partner understand the real cause behind not having sex.
  • You must understand that sex is an emotional act as much as a physical act. There is a lot of emotion attached when men and women indulge themselves in sexual intercourse.
  • Due to this reason, you can involve yourself in a sexual relationship with another person when you are emotionally comfortable with one another.
  • If at any point in time, you feel that there is uneasiness, say no to your partner and seek time before having sex.

3. Do Kegel Exercises

Vaginismus is one of the major causes behind women suffering from Genophobia. Practicing Kegel exercises can help you combat this problem. 

They will provide strength to your pelvic floor muscles which help regulate the vagina, bladder, and rectum. Pelvic floor muscles are the ones you make use of to stop the flow while you urinate.

Simply contract and then relax those muscles while counting to 10. Repeat the same process three times a day to get rid of the problem of Vaginismus.

4. Seek Intimacy in Different Ways

  • Try to lighten up the mood and find ways to make things even more enjoyable in bed.
  • You can focus on a different type of foreplay like kissing and cuddling. As a woman, you try to sexually arouse your man by making foreplay more interesting. 
  • You might even try to take a hot bath or provide a sensual massage to your partner.
  • Look to please one another with masturbation, so that there is no urgent requirement to engage in sexual intercourse every time you feel sexually aroused.
  • A man can slowly rub a woman’s boobs as part of the masturbation process and help build up sexual arousal. 
  • While a woman can keep resorting to different ways to satisfy herself. 

5. Divert Your Attention

  • The body image issues and performance anxiety would go away in no time if you can manage to divert your attention. 
  • You can play some romantic soothing music while making love or you can even turn on a sexy movie and imitate their sexual activity.
  • Try not to watch too much porn as they tend to exaggerate things linked with sexual intercourse a lot. Those big boobs and large penises are a myth. Hence, you should not pay attention to them.
  • You can think of something that turns you on, and then execute the same with your partner to get rid of shame and fear related to sex. A man can think of having sex in the shower as well.
  • On the other hand, a woman can think of standing in front of her man in sexy lingerie and performing a striptease to seduce him or can imagine making out in the kitchen or the theatre with people looking at her having sex.

6. Find the root cause of your fear

Your fear has not grown overnight. So, try to know the root cause of your suffering. Ask yourself several questions before heading on to a therapist’s office for further help.

  • Do you suffer from self-esteem issues related to your body?
  • Has anyone criticized you for not being comfortable in bed?
  • Is your partner less supportive?
  • Were you ever sexually abused by an adult in your childhood?
  • Are you suffering from some hidden insecurity that you are unable to discuss openly?
  • Do you get pains while engaging in sexual acts?

Your answers to the above questions will help you understand the deeper problem. When you know the triggers, you’ll know the coping methods also.

You will be able to face and conquer fear more confidently.

7. Do not live with your anxiety

Learn the fact that sex anxiety is real and until you do something about it, you will go on suffering. Many people prefer to live in silence when it comes to genophobia. 

They fear society’s ridicule and thus accept their condition and live in silence.

But in the long run, this gets worse and the person suffers from serious relationship issues. Thus, stop living in silence and seek help when needed. 

Break the barrier related to sexual taboos and stereotypes and accept your anxiety as real. accept the fact that you need help to fight your fears otherwise, it will take a toll on your life. 

Summing Up from ‘ThePleasantMind’

To end it can be said that genophobia is a real and disturbing condition for those who suffer from this illness. 

The problem with genophobia is the symptoms remain hidden unless one attempts to experience the act of sexual intercourse.

Most often people prefer to suffer in silence rather than discuss this tabooed topic with others. The fear of humiliation also plays a vital role in delaying treatment.

But, the good news is, this condition is treatable and the person can start living a normal life over a period of time. 

It is important to reflect on past experiences and leave the emotional baggage that you might be carrying for a long time.

Your therapist will help you navigate the disturbing emotions and heal from within. The earlier this healing takes place, the better it becomes.

The road to recovery may be time-consuming but it will be worth trying for your healthy and happy living.

Are you interested to know more about ‘Tokophobia’ then click here?

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