Have you ever heard the word menophobia? It is a type of phobia, in this case the phobia (intense and irrational fear) of menstruation.
In this article, we will look at the characteristics of this particular phobia, what exactly is feared about it, and finally, what are its symptoms, causes and possible treatments.
Menophobia: what is it?
Menophobia is the phobia of menstruation (rule). This fear can be extrapolated to the fact of bleeding, but also to the symptoms associated with the rules (pain, mood swings, hormonal changes …). It is therefore a type of phobia linked to other types of fear, such as fear of pain and / or fear of blood (hemophobia or hematophobia).
Another curious fact about menophobia is that in the case of men suffering is linked, in some cases, to the fear of women.
Features of menstruation
Also called menorrhagia, menstruation or menstruation, as most of us know, this is a bleeding that occurs once a month in women (since the first period arrives, between 8 and 15 years old, approximately, until they have menopause, between the ages of 45). and 55).
During this period, which lasts between 2 and 7 days, women bleed through the vagina. The amount of blood varies greatly from woman to woman, And the bleeding is not the same on the first day as on the second, third, etc. Menstruation occurs because the egg that the woman has produced is expelled from the ovary to be fertilized and not fertilized (that is, there is no pregnancy).
So, in menophobia there is an intense, irrational and disproportionate fear of menstruation; it can happen to both men and women. However, it should be noted that it’s a rare phobia (It is true that there can be many associated fears, especially in women, and this is quite common, but these are cases that could hardly be classified as phobias).
In other words, cases of menophobia, diagnosable as such (with all the symptoms involved and compliance with the diagnostic criteria), are rather rare.
Symptoms of menstruation phobia
What are the main symptoms of menophobia? As a specific phobia that is and, being an anxiety disorder (according to DSM-5), there are a number of diagnostic criteria (symptoms) specific to it, and there are mainly four:
- Disproportionate / irrational fear
- Avoidance of phobic stimulus
- Interference in daily life
- Duration of symptoms for at least 6 months.
Let’s take a closer look at them.
1. By disproportionate / irrational
In menophobia, excessive fear may appear in the face of different stimuli: Bleeding itself (which is linked to the phobia of blood [hemofobia o hematofobia]), Painful symptoms associated with menstruation and / or resulting hormonal and mood changes.
In other words, it is a complex phobia, because we can fear all these situations, or only one of them.
1.1. Fear of bleeding / in the blood
Fear of blood or bleeding, called hemophobia or hematophobia, May appear in menophobia. It could also be related to a sensitivity to disgust or a fear / loathing of staining clothes, for example.
1.2. Fear of pain
Fear of pain is quite common, although it should be emphasized that being afraid of something is not the same as having a phobia. Phobias are anxiety disorders that cause real interference in daily functioning as well as intense discomfort. In other words, it is mental disorders that neutralize the person.
So, fear of pain is common not only in menophobia, but in other types of phobia. In these cases, in the end, what the person fears is not so much the stimulus itself (in this case, menstruation), but the consequences (symptoms) of that, which would involve pain.
Since time immemorial (also evolutionary) pain (both physical and mental) has been somewhat avoided by humans, as it is a state that generates different emotions / feelings, such as rejection, fear. So it is natural to think that people don’t want to suffer and don’t want to feel pain.
1.3. Fear of mood and / or hormonal changes
Another possible fear associated with menophobia is intense fear of mood and / or hormonal changes generated by menstruation.
If, as women, we know that before (or during menstruation) our hormonal cycle changes and, as a result, our mood and mood, it can lead to discomfort and / or to anxiety. In extreme cases (when this discomfort really interferes with our lives), menophobia appears.
In menophobia, as in any other phobia, the stimulus / phobic situation is avoided. Although in this case, this symptom is peculiar, as menstruation cannot be avoided (unless artificial methods are used, such as agitated birth control pills).
So, the person with menophobia could use one of these methods to avoid menstruation.
3. Interference with life
The above symptoms cause interference with the person’s daily life and normal functioning. In addition, there is often significant discomfort in the person.
4. Duration of 6 months
finally the duration of symptoms of any specific phobia should be at least 6 months (Still according to the DSM-5).
The causes of menophobia can be various: related to another specific phobia, it is generally hemophobia or hematophobia (phobia of the blood), related to a traumatic event or very embarrassing for the person (for example having been stained in public and afraid of feeling it again), having experienced severe pain, too intense mood swings, etc.), etc.
On the other hand, in the case of women, the fact that you have had a very strong and painful period can also lead to the onset of menophobia (For this intense fear of pain).
Regarding the psychological therapy of menophobia, remember that the treatment usually used in specific phobias is of two types: exposure therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy. Both of these options are very effective, although the exposure therapy a little more.
In exposure therapy, the person with menophobia will be exposed to the stimuli that they fear so much. In the case of blood this can be simple, although in the case of pain and mood swings the item hierarchy will be more difficult to achieve (because these are more “abstract” or difficult to materialize stimuli).
As for cognitive behavioral therapy, it aims to modify the erroneous beliefs and dysfunctional / irrational thoughts associated with the phobic stimulus, in this case the menstruation, the pain it causes, the blood itself, the coloring of the public. or the mood swings it causes. This objective is mainly worked through cognitive restructuring techniques.
- American Psychiatric Association -APA- (2014). DSM-5. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Madrid: Panamericana.
- Belloch, A., Sandín, B. and Ramos, F. (2010). Manual of psychopathology. Volumes I and II. Madrid: McGraw-Hill.
- Horse (2002). Manual for the cognitive-behavioral treatment of psychological disorders. Flight. 1 and 2. Madrid. 21st century (chapters 1-8, 16-18).