Erotophobia or the Fear of Sex
Erotophobia is a generalised term that encompasses a wide range of specific fears. It’s generally understood to include any phobia that is related to sex. Erotophobia is often complex, and many people who live with it have more than one specific fear. Untreated erotophobia can be devastating and may lead someone with the disorder to avoid not only romantic relationships but also other forms of intimate contact.
Like any phobia, erotophobia varies dramatically in both symptoms and severity. It is a very personalised fear, and no two people with erotophobia are likely to experience it in the same way. You may recognise some of your own fears in this list.
Also known as coitophobia, this is the fear of sexual intercourse. Many people with genophobia are able to begin romantic relationships, and may quite enjoy activities such as kissing and cuddling but are afraid to move into a more physical display of affection.
Fear of Intimacy
The fear of intimacy is often, though not always, rooted in a fear of abandonment or its twin, the fear of engulfment. Those who fear intimacy are not necessarily afraid of the sex act itself but are afraid of the emotional closeness that it may bring.
The fear of sexual perversion is itself a complicated phobia. Some people are afraid that they might be perverted themselves, while others fear the perversions of others. Some people with paraphobia are able to enjoy traditional sexual relationships that fit well within their personal moral code, while others are afraid that any form of intimacy might be perverted.
Also known as chiraptophobia, the fear of being touched often affects all relationships, not just those of a romantic nature. Some people recoil from even passing contact by a relative, while others are afraid only of more protracted touching.
The fear of nudity is often complex. Some people are afraid of being naked, others of people being naked around them. This fear may signal body image issues or feelings of inadequacy, although it may also occur alone.
Fear of Vulnerability
Like the fear of intimacy, the fear of vulnerability is often tied to a fear of abandonment or fear of engulfment. Many people are afraid that if they are totally themselves, others will not like them.
Also known as philematophobia, the fear of kissing may have many causes. It is often tied to physical concerns, such as a concern over bad breath or even germ phobia.
As a highly personalised fear, erotophobia may have innumerable causes. In some cases, it may be difficult or impossible to pinpoint a specific cause. Nonetheless, some people may be at a higher risk due to past or current events in their lives.
Although not everyone with erotophobia has been raped or sexually abused, those who have been traumatized are at increased risk for developing some form of erotophobia.
People who have been through major traumas have a higher risk of developing anxiety disorders including phobias. If the trauma was physical, you may be more likely to develop a touch-related erotophobia, while those who have been through psychological or emotional abuse may be more likely to develop intimacy or vulnerability-related fears.
Personal, Cultural, and Religious Mores
Although many religions and societies frown on sexual intercourse except for procreation, following these restrictions does not constitute a phobia. However, many people experience difficulty when trying to balance past and current beliefs.
Sometimes, it isn’t actually sex that we fear. Instead, we may worry about our own ability to please a partner. Performance anxiety is particularly common in those who are young or inexperienced but may occur in all ages and levels of experience.
Some people worry that sex will hurt. Some wonder if they will be able to perform due to a physiological condition. Fears that have a legitimate medical basis are not considered phobias.
However, some people experience fears that are far out of proportion to the reality of the situation. If your fear is inappropriate to the current risks, you might have a phobia.