Fear of the penis (phallophobia): causes, symptoms and treatment

Phobias are one of the most common reasons that patients see a psychologist.

There are different types of phobias, and among the specific phobic disorders we can find hydrophobia (fear of water), aerophobia (fear of flying) or arachnophobia (fear of spiders), among others. One of the specific phobias which is not so common but which is very curious is phallophobia, Irrational fear of penises.

In this article, we will talk about this phobia and delve deeper into its symptoms, causes, and treatment.

What is phallophobia

Phallophobia usually includes within different sexual phobias or erotofobias, between which also they emphasize coitophobia (fear to the sexual relations), gymnophobia (fear to nudity) or hafefobia (fear to the contact or to be touched), among others. It is often seen as a sexual phobia because many people who suffer from it, especially in the case of women, avoid sexual contact as they do not have to deal with the phobic stimulus. However, both men and women can suffer from this type of phobia.

Irrational fear affects both flaccid and erect penises (medorthophobia). The penis, whether it is erect or not, is a natural thing and most people understand it that way. However, there are men and women who are afraid to see, think, or have an erect penis. For many phobic personalities, Iit can cause a lot of anxiety and discomfort, which causes them to avoid these uncomfortable situations.

Causes: traumatic situations

It is generally accepted that phobias result from a combination of external events (i.e. traumatic events) and internal predispositions (i.e. inheritance or genetics), although that the first option carries much more weight. In other words, many phobias have their origin in a triggering event in the past, usually a traumatic experience that occurs at an early age. For example, photophobia may have its origin in a bad sexual relationship in the past, which caused great harm to the person suffering from it.

Learning a phobia goes through classic conditioning, a type of associative learning.

  • If you want to know more about classic conditioning, you can read our article: “Classic conditioning and its most important experiences”

The biological origin of phobias

Although this is generally encountered in almost all cases of specific phobia, social phobias and agoraphobia can have more complex causes.

As for biological causes, it seems that the body is designed to fear certain stimuli as a form of survival. Something that may have been very useful in the past, but not so much nowadays. Thus, phobias would occur through primitive and non-cognitive associations, and logical arguments would be ineffective in modifying these associations.


Symptoms of phobias are common to all types of phobias, as these pathologies belong to the group of anxiety disorders. That is why the main symptom is anxiety and discomfort, and the main characteristic exhibited by phobic patients is to avoid the dreaded stimulus.

The phobic stimulus produces great fear and anxiety, which is why the person tries to stay away from any situation in which they might experience this. If sexual intercourse includes the possibility of seeing the phobic stimulus, patients with phallophobia avoid having sex and therefore have serious difficulties in their love life.

In summary, phallophobia exhibits the following symptoms:

  • physical symptoms: Hyperventilation and shortness of breath, hyperhidrosis, tachycardia, tremors, chills, chest tightness, dry mouth, stomach aches, dizziness, headaches …
  • psychological symptoms: Distorted and catastrophic thoughts and great anxiety, discomfort and fear.
  • behavioral symptoms: Avoidant behavior in the presence of phobic stimuli: penis.


Like any phobia, psychological treatment can be very effective. Psychotherapy is therefore the best option, although in extreme cases drugs can also be applied.

Psychologists often use different techniques to treat this disorder, and cognitive behavioral therapy often works well, which aims to correct beliefs or behaviors that interfere with the patient’s well-being. The most commonly used techniques are generally relaxation and exposure techniques. As for the latter, highlights systematic desensitization, which consists of gradually exposing the patient to feared situations while learning adaptive tools. In addition, the therapist can help the patient understand the natural function of the human body and why erections take place, what they mean and what they do not.

In recent times, contextual therapies such as Mindfulness or Acceptance and Commitment Therapy have proven to be very effective in the treatment of any type of anxiety disorder, as they help the patient to come to terms with the anxiety experience and, to in this way, the intensity of symptoms decreases. Hypnotherapy can also work very well for some patients.

In severe cases, they may also administer medication prescribed by a psychiatrist, but this treatment option should always be accompanied by psychotherapy, as studies show that it is not effective in the long term if performed as alone. form of treatment.

New technologies and treatment of phobias

Over the past decades, new technologies have entered our lives in different ways. It is now possible to buy furniture online, read everyday life from the computer, study a master’s degree without having to go to college or do psychotherapy online.

Outraged, it is possible to treat phobias from the mobile itselfAs in recent years, applications have emerged using virtual reality and augmented reality to expose the patient to phobic stimuli.

  • Find the best applications on the market in our article: “8 applications to treat phobias and fears of your smartphone”

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