Coitophobia (genophobia): fear of sexual intercourse

Coitophobia is an irrational fear of sexual intercourse, which is one of the wide variety of sexual phobias. or erotophobia. People with this disorder may initiate romantic relationships, kiss or hug another person, but experience great fear of intercourse and penetration.

Having sex, especially with the person we love, is one of the greatest pleasures in life, and living a healthy life, both individually and as a couple, is essential. But when fear takes over a person, the psychological and social consequences can be very serious.

In this article, we’ll talk about coitophobia (also known as genophobia) and delve deeper into the causes, symptoms, and consequences of this irrational fear.

What sexual phobias exist

Sexual phobias or erotophobias are a variety of sex-related disorders. Some people experience a phobia of penetration (as in the case of coitophobia), others are afraid of penises, and others of intimacy.

Phobias, in general, are irrational fears that generate great anxiety, discomfort and spikes in stress and cause the phobic person to avoid the feared stimulus or situation. There are different types of sexual phobias besides coitophobia, they are as follows:

1. Nudophobia

This phobia is also known as gymnophobia and is the fear of nudity. Therefore, these people are afraid of being naked or that others see them that way.

2. Fear of privacy

Nudophobia can be confused with the fear of intimacy, but it is not the same. Fear of intimacy doesn’t refer so much to being naked, but to feeling close to the other person both physically and emotionally.

3. Haphophobia

And the irrational fear of intimacy is also not the same as the fear of a person’s physical contact, which is called hafephobia. This fear is characterized by the fact that the individual is afraid of being affected by different causes (for example, for fear of contracting diseases).

Although hafephobia is not only related to sex, this disorder also affects sexual intercourse.

4. Phallophobia

It is the irrational fear of saggy, erect penises (medorthophobia) that makes it seriously difficult to have sex.

    5. Paraphobia

    It is a phobic disorder characterized by a fear of sexual perversion. It is a complex phobia in which some people are afraid of perverting themselves, while others fear the perversions of others.

    6. Phobia of vulnerability

    The vulnerability phobia is the fear of abandonment, of being alone if someone rejects them, it also affects intimacy, because some people do not believe that others can please them.

    This phobia has negative consequences in different types of interpersonal relationships including those of a partner and therefore sexual relationships with him are affected.

    7. Philemaphobia

    It is also known as filematophobia, and it is the phobia of kissing, that is, the irrational fear of these acts of love. It is often associated with different causes, such as worries about bad breath or fear of getting infected.

      Causes (and classic conditioning)

      Coitophobia, like any phobia, usually develops as a result of a traumatic experience. This goes through a type of associative learning called classical conditioning, in which the person goes through a traumatic experience of the past that elicits a strong emotional response.

      John B. Watson was the first scientist to experience this type of learning with humans, and he asked a little boy named Albert to learn an irrational fear, that is, a phobia . This controversial experiment could not be carried out today because it is not considered ethical. You can read more about the experience with little Albert in the following video:

      Other causes of this phobia

      The bad experiences that can cause this phobia can be different from one person to another: sexual abuse, manipulative sexual behavior, or pain suffered during penetration. Phobias can have their origin in childhood, although in this case it is very normal to start in adulthood., When sexual behavior is more pronounced.

      They can often develop as a result of other sexual problems, such as erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation, or dyspareunia, a medical condition that makes sex painful for some women.

      Religious or irrational beliefs about sex (often the result of misinformation or television) can cause a person to suffer from this phobia.

      Symptoms of genophobia

      Coitophobia presents the same symptoms as other phobias, whether specific (as in the case of this phobia) or complex (as in the case of social phobia or agoraphobia). Anxiety and discomfort are characteristic symptoms, and the person generally avoids any situation related to sex. with another person.

      Symptoms of coitophobia can be classified into three groups:

      • cognitive symptoms: Irrational thoughts, anxiety, fear …
      • behavioral symptoms: Avoid the feared situation or stimulus, i.e. sexual intercourse.
      • physical symptoms: Chest tightness, dry mouth, nausea, dizziness, headaches, hyperventilation and shortness of breath, rapid heartbeat, tremors, chills …

      Treatment of this phobia

      According to research, phobias can be overcome with psychotherapy. And the data from these studies shows that cognitive behavioral therapy is really effective. Some of the techniques most used in this type of therapy to overcome phobias are relaxation techniques or exposure techniques.

      Regarding the latter, automatic desensitization is generally used, which consists in gradually exposing the patient to the phobic stimulus while learning more adaptive tools to cope with the situation. Logically, it is not possible for the patient to have sex in consultation, but they can employ other strategies which help to expose the patient to such situations and he can verify that his assumptions are wrong. They can also use certain cognitive techniques to modify certain irrational beliefs.

      Likewise, acceptance is often the key to reducing anxiety, which is why, in recent times, new forms of therapy such as mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) or acceptance therapy and commitment were used.

      In extreme cases, pharmacological treatment has been found to be helpful, but always in conjunction with psychological therapy.

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