In this blog we will discuss the etiology, symptoms and treatment of a very important phobia, the Erotophobia.
Erotophobia is an intense fear of sex. The sufferer may be afraid of the entire sexual act or fearful of the aftermaths of sex. He/she has strong aversion to sex that could have stemmed from an earlier painful or traumatic event or due to anxiety running in the family.
Sex is considered as the culmination of desires that are directed to wards a romantic partner. The romance between two people cultivates the sexual act into something that is erotically desirable and is essential for the display of love they feel for each other.
Sex is an important act between couples. It is important for reproduction, that is the basic motive behind it and it is vital for displaying of affections as well. without the presence of sex, the person tends to get irritable and frustrated and there are times that he may resort to aggressive acts as well.
Erotophobia is a general term that encompasses a wide range of specific fears. It includes any phobia that is related to sex. People suffering from Erotophobia have more than one specific fear.
If it is left untreated then it can have drastic effects on a person’s personal life, where he will be unable to form any meaningful or relationship. This can thus lead to depression. Erotophobia varies vividly in both symptoms and severity. It is a very personalized fear, and no two people with erotophobia are likely to experience it in the same way.
Causes of Erotophobia
There are many causes of Erotophobia that are prevalent in the minds of the sufferers.
Relation with other phobias or conditions
These people may suffer from a Fear of Intimacy. This means that people are afraid to form close ties with others in fear of future rejection or isolation. It goes hand in hand with the fear of isolation. It is not sex per se, but the fear of losing a loved one later that evokes this phobia.
Erotophobia might also be linked with Genophobia, which is a fear of sexual intercourse. People suffering from this phobia may enjoy cuddling and kissing but not intercourse. The act entirely moves them into a panic attack.
Dyspareunia is another medical or psychological condition that is painful sex. If a woman is suffering from it then she will develop an intense fear to sex itself and would not want to indulge in the act again, leading to Erotophobia.
Another cause of Erotophobia is Paraphobia. The sufferer is afraid that during the sexual act he may act as a pervert or he is afraid of the perversion of the other partner. Therefore, the intimacy is avoided and so is the sexual act. According to them all intimacies are amoral.
People suffering from Erotophobia can also suffer from a phobia of being touched, that is the reason they want to avoid sex so much so that they are intensely afraid of the actual act of sex. This type of fear is also called Haphephobia.
It may also be that the person may be suffering from a body dysmorphic disorder and does not want the other person to see him/her naked, in fear that they would loathe what they themselves do not like. They might also recoil from a touch.
People who suffer from Erotophobia may also be afraid of contamination by germs and related aversion can be of kissing as well, this may be due to bad breath or a fear of close contact.
It may also happen that the sufferer has gone through sexual abuse at one point in his life and that is enough for him to develop Erotophobia. This is a very common etiology.
There are many cultures and religions around the world that see sexual act only to be for procreation. It is not to be indulged in for pleasure or romance. Another fear that feeds on Erotophobia is that people are afraid that they might not be able to perform up to their partners level of expectation.
The sexual act may itself be pleasurable but the anxiety of not being up to the mark to satisfy the other can lead to Erotophobia. There are cases where the person has been scared of the pain associated with the sexual act and might be unable to indulge themselves in this act.
Symptoms of Erotophobia
The symptoms of Erotophobia are:
- Feeling Dread
- Inability to Relax
- Impending Sense of Dread
- Low concentration
- Lack of motivation
- Aches & Pains that have no physical cause
- Dry mouth
- Migraines and Headaches
- Lack of Sleep
Erotophobia, like all other specific phobias has no exclusive type of treatment that is specifically designed to treat it. Like all the other specific phobias, Erotophobia is treated by a number of different therapies including, Therapy, Cognitive-behavioral Therapy (CBT) and or medications that lower downs the anxiety or other physical symptoms.
Treatments of Erotophobia
Psycho-Dynamic Therapies such as Psychoanalysis and Schema Therapy are fundamentally different because they consider earlier childhood experiences as being vital in the formation of later schemas and also phobias.
If childhood root cause is tapped then the chances of the person recovering are bright.
• Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
It is one of the most frequently used treatment for patients with almost all kinds of mental disorders. Erotophobia is defined as the irrational fear of sex. Thus, the therapist helps the patient in replacing these irrational thoughts with more rational ones.
The patients are helped out in analyzing and justifying the way they feel about having sex. Therapists assist them in uncovering the reasons behind their fear and later they provide them with alternate, pleasant thoughts.
The patient is told to maintain a thought diary (with ABCD column) which provides them a replacement for every irrational thought they have, when thinking about a particular situation. The ABCD stands for:
i. A (antecedents) a situation or triggering event.
ii. B (belief) the thought that comes to one’s mind when in that triggering situation.
iii. C (consequences) the symptoms/feelings caused by that event/thought
iv. D (dispute) alternate, rational thoughts provided by the therapist in an attempt to dispute/challenge those irrational beliefs.
This last section of the thought diary is what really plays a role in helping the person feel good/less anxious.
• Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR)
MBSR is a meditation therapy, is used to manage stress or anxiety. It is an 8-week program which includes group sessions. Mindfulness meditation and Hatha yoga are practiced in these sessions. Lectures and group discussions are also done to talk about mental health and increase interactivity.
In mindfulness meditation the person is told to, for example to focus on the sensations felt while breathing or the rhythm of the chest rising and falling during the process. This distracts the person’s attention from something stressful to something which is neutral and soothing.
For quick and effective treatment, patients are also given a set of home works, for example 45 minutes of yoga and meditation sessions for 6 days a week and to record their results/feelings in a book or diary for 15 minutes a day.
• Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)
This is another effective therapy used to treat Erotophobia. It is more commonly used with people suffering from personality disorders, but is also useful with patients suffering from this type of specific phobias. Coping skills are taught in the DBT group which lasts for about 6-months and can have a number of people (depending on how many join the group).
i. Half-smiling is the first module of DBT. It is a technique that is used with patients who are distressed because of their irrational thoughts. The technique is known as ‘Half-smiling’ because the person is first advised to think about the stimuli that fears or upsets them, and while doing so they are told to lift the corners of their mouths by subtly smiling. Smiling is not that will help one get rid of these unpleasant thoughts, it is the person’s ability to constrain itself from thinking about those thoughts while half smiling.
ii. Mindfulness, the second module, is another technique used in DBT groups which helps the individual in getting rid of those negative thoughts. Individuals are told to focus on the present and be attentive to what is going on around them at the moment. This helps in breaking the link between their mind and any negative thought that might come to them then.
iii. The third technique or module of the DBT is distress tolerance skills. This module teaches people to calm themselves down in healthy ways when they are distressed or emotionally overwhelmed. Individuals are allowed to make wise, rational decisions and take immediate action, rather than being captured by emotionally destructive thoughts that might make the situation worse. Reality acceptance skills are also learnt under this model so that people fully accept reality and later make plans on how to address the problem.
They are not just one of the many treatment therapies used for Erotophobia, instead they are one of the most common ways of relaxation used by many people. Yoga tends to stimulate the meditative state of one’s mind while the person is in a particular yoga posture.
Through yoga/meditation the mind is diverted towards something more productive and calmer, allowing the person to escape the negative, distress causing thoughts.
Out of a number of yoga types, one can benefit from any yoga type/pose they like. Hatha yoga is one of the different types of yoga. The breathing techniques or the imagery one creates while in a yoga posture are the real factors that makes the person feel less anxious and diverts their mind, away from the thoughts about germs.
• Drug Therapy
Drugs are used to reduce the physical symptoms caused by Erotophobia. Drugs are very quick in effectiveness, as they start showing progress in the patients’ health at least 2 weeks after the medicine is taken.
This type of biological treatment is usually more effective if the cause of the phobia is only genetic. However, these drugs/medicines are not to be taken without a doctor’s prescription or consultation.
Two types of drugs are used in the treatment of this phobia:
i. Anti-anxiety Drugs
Medicines like Klonopin are anti-anxiety drugs. They are most commonly used with patients who experience panic attacks and also lowers their anxiety by binding to receptor cells of the brain that cause these unpleasant symptoms.
ii. Antidepressant Drugs
These drugs, as the name suggest don’t only treat depression but are also very effective in treating phobias. Medicines like Paxil reduce the anxious feelings of a person and makes him feel calm. They need to be taken on a daily basis but not without a doctor’s advice.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Why am I afraid of physical intimacy?
You may fear physical intimacy because you may fear rejection from your partner. This is common when we have a low body image and are not comfortable with our physical appearance.
- What is Erotophobia?
Erotophobia is an irrational fear of having sex. It is developed through fear of intimacy and fear of pain while having sex or simply anxiety at the mere thought of commitment as well.
- What are signs of intimacy issues?
- The Fear of intimacy has the following symptoms:
- low self-esteem.
- experience episodes of anger.
- actively avoid physical contact.
- have anxiety forming or committing to close relationships.
- Why do I fear sex so much?
You may fear sex because you might be afraid of forming a committed relationship as sex depicts that 2 people are committed to each other.
Titles to Read From
- How to Overcome Sex Fear : (It’s not as Bad as it looks)
by author Davis Eme, Davis Eme, et al.
- Love Without Fear: How to Achieve Sex Happiness in Marriage
by Eustace Chesser M. D. | Jan 1, 1947
- Sex Without Fear
by John Gilmore Ph.D S. A. Lewin M.D. | Jan 1, 1969
- Fear of Sex
by K. M. Schwartz
- Science of Yoga: Understand the Anatomy and Physiology to Perfect your Practice
by Ann Swanson