Luiphobia (fear of contracting syphilis): symptoms, causes and treatment

Fear of contracting certain illnesses can be considered “normal” and common in people. These types of fear are adaptive because they protect us from harm or harm. In this article we will get to know one of them, luiphobia: phobia to contract syphilis.

Syphilis is a very common sexually transmitted disease (STD), so it makes sense to be afraid; but, when this fear becomes pathological, the phobia appears. Let’s find out about the characteristics of this phobia, how it appears and how it can be treated.

    Luiphobia: a specific phobia

    Luiphobia is a persistent, abnormal, and unwarranted fear of contracting syphilis. Syphilis is a very common sexually transmitted disease (STD), Which is spread through vaginal, anal and oral sex. Syphilis causes sores in the genital area (called chancres).

    As the stimulus or feared situation can be identified and clarified (in this case, syphilis), luiphobia is considered a specific phobia (in addition to its symptoms, typical of a specific phobia, as we will see below. ).

    People with liphobia will be afraid of the disease even when they are not at risk of infection.; it can affect your emotional and sex life (and your life in general) as well as decrease your quality of life.


    Luiphobia can make a person believe that they have actually contracted the disease they are afraid of.

    In this case, fear arises in the face of syphilis, a chronic sexually transmitted disease (STD) which, in its first phase, produces cankers (open sores) on the skin and, if left untreated, can end in affect the nervous system, resulting in mental illness. and trigger death.

    There are currently treatments for syphilis with penicillin and a person with syphilis he can recover when the disease is treated early.

    On the other hand, it is recommended to adopt preventive behaviors to avoid the contraction of syphilis; in this case, take precautions during sexual intercourse to avoid contracting syphilis and other STDs (use of condoms during genital, oral and anal sex, as this greatly reduces the risks).

      Other phobias to get sick

      Luiphobia is one of the many phobias associated with contracting a certain disease. Other cases of phobias of certain diseases are, for example, leprosy (phobia of leprosy), carcinophobia (phobia of cancer) and dermatophobia (phobia of skin diseases).


      The symptoms of luiphobia correspond to the symptoms of a specific phobia (defined in DSM-5). These are the following.

      1. Blessed and persistent fear

      This fear is excessive or irrational, And is triggered by the presence or anticipation of a specific object or situation (in this case, irrational fear of contracting syphilis).

      2. Anxiety

      Exposure to a phobic stimulus (to situations that lead to sex or intercourse, for example, or to unprotected sex) it almost invariably elicits an immediate response to anxiety, Which can take the form of a situational anxiety attack or more or less linked to a given situation.

      For children, anxiety can lead to crying, anger, inhibition or hugging. In this case, luiphobia is considered very rare in the infant population.

      3. Avoidance

      The phobic situation (s) are avoided or supported at the expense of intense anxiety or discomfort.

      4. Interference in normal routine

      Avoidance behaviors, anxious anticipation or discomfort caused by feared situations they strongly interfere with the person’s normal routine, With work (or academic) or social relationships, or cause clinically significant discomfort.

      5. Duration

      Symptoms of luiphobia take at least 6 months to be diagnosed.

      6. This cannot be explained by other disorders

      Anxiety, panic attacks, or phobic avoidance behaviors associated with specific objects or situations they cannot be better explained by the presence of another mental disorder.

      the causes

      The causes of luiphobia are the same as the causes of specific phobias, although depending on the type of phobia these can vary.

      In the case of luiphobia, it may have appeared due to classic conditioning (by associating risky behavior with the onset of syphilis), or even may have arisen as a result of traumatic experiences (Direct packaging), if the person has suffered from syphilis in the past.

      On the other hand, luiphobia may also have been ‘inherited’, that is, it may have been acquired through observation (vicarious conditioning) (for example, that the person knows someone in the know). environment with syphilis), or through information conditioning processes (which the person in question has heard of epidemics of syphilis, or has been made aware of new cases of syphilis, with the pain and discomfort that this disease causes).


      The psychological treatment for luiphobia would be the same as for a specific phobia; like that, live exposure is used as treatment par excellence (behavioral treatment). In this case, the exposure would be made to situations likely to trigger the contraction of syphilis, or the maintenance of sexual relations, sexual relations, etc., without the appearance of evacuation ducts (with exceptions).

      Variants of exposure therapy can also be applied: exposure in the imagination or exposure through virtual reality.

      Otherand can use cognitive behavioral therapy, With the aim of eliminating the cognitive distortions associated with the phobia, as well as the dysfunctional beliefs and the meaning attributed to syphilis and other behaviors of the person.

      Pharmacologically, anxiolytics can be used (to reduce anxiety), although it is not recommended to use them in exposures in the case of behavioral treatment, because the therapeutic effect is reduced (the person does not cope with the situation in a “natural” way). However, they can be used in addition to other psychological therapies (as well as some antidepressants).

      Bibliographical references:

      • Cavall, V. (2002). Manual for the cognitive-behavioral treatment of psychological disorders. Flight. 1 and 2. Madrid. 21st century (chapters 1-8, 16-18).
      • Belloch, A .; Sandín, B. I Ramos, F. (2010). Manual of psychopathology. Volumes I and II. Madrid: McGraw-Hill.
      • American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Fifth edition. DSM-5. Masson, Barcelona.

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