Fear of Sex: What Is Genophobia, 15 Symptoms & Ways to Overcome It

What are you scared of? There’s bound to be something! Everyone has fears and for some, a fear of sex, or genophobia, is a very real thing.

genophobia fear of sex

Some people have a fear that’s been present as long as they can remember, from childhood onwards. Yet for some, a fear can develop over time, or perhaps simply crash into life and make itself very well known. Fear can be irrational, reasonable, or they can be things that we don’t really understand but know that deep down, there’s a reason. For those who have genophobia, or a fear of sex, life can be rather confusing.

The good news? There are ways to unpick the fear and overcome it.

We’re only human, so it’s normal for us to develop our own phobias. Genophobia is the physical or psychological fear of sex or sexual intimacy. First of all, this fear can develop due to various reasons. [Read: Erotophobia – The variety of fears related to sexual intimacy]

The biggest issue with genophobia is that it’s not something that most people with this fear find easy to talk about. It’s not really something you generally drop into conversation, “hey, I have a fear of sex!” So, it’s quite understandable that there may be people out there struggling with this fear in total silence.

This isn’t about you being afraid of the dark, which most people can relate to. This is about being afraid of sexual intimacy, which most people won’t understand.

But, by seeking support and learning to slowly unpick your fear and the reasons behind it, you can overcome genophobia and enjoy a healthy and fulfilling sex life. [Read: Jittery about getting jiggy? How to not be nervous about sex]

What are the symptoms of genophobia?

Genophobia isn’t just a fear of sex that makes someone say “oh, no thank you”, it’s a serious issue that can cause panic and extreme reactions when a person thinks about having sex or when a sexual situation arises.

Any type of sexual intimacy, or the prospective chances of any sexual intimacy, can cause unpleasant emotions and reactions for a person struggling with this condition.

To understand an issue, you need to know what it feels like for the person struggling with it. If you think that maybe genophobia could sum up how you’re feeling, check these symptoms that are pretty common with people suffering from a fear of sex and sexual intimacy in general. [Read: Fear of intimacy – The hardships of being afraid of love]

1. Feeling panic and anxiety when having thoughts of sex or sexual intimacy, including shortness of breath, dizziness, palpitations, or sweating

2. Anxiety and panic when any type of situation crops up that could lead to sexual intimacy, including the reactions mentioned in the last point

3. A person with genophobia may understand that the fear is irrational in some ways, but they can’t control it

4. Avoidance of any type of sexual situation [Read: How not to be nervous before having sex with someone and just enjoy it]

5. Worsening symptoms in the presence of a personal trigger

6. Struggling with relationships and difficulty explaining the fear to partners

Where does genophobia come from?

Every single person will have their own story when it comes to genophobia. There is no one single reason why it develops or happens. However, there are some common emotional and physical issues that may cause or contribute toward a fear of sex. These include:

[Read: Relationship anxiety – 20 mistakes you need to stop making]

1. Sexual abuse or rape in the past

A person who has experienced sexual abuse in the past, be it in childhood or later in their life, may develop genophobia as a result of their experiences.

A person who has experienced rape may develop PTSD and this could contribute towards a fear of sex and any type of sexual intimacy.

2. Body dysmorphia

Body dysmorphia is more than just low body confidence, it’s an inability to see their body as it really is.

The distorted view can lead to all sorts of confidence issues and could even contribute toward feelings of shame. This is among the main causes of genophobia. [Read: How to love your body, no matter its size]

3. Sexual performance issues, including erectile dysfunction

A person who has had any sexual performance issues in the past may develop a fear of sex as a result of the trauma it caused them. Feelings of shame and embarrassment can lead them towards avoiding sex and any type of intimacy.

4. Vaginismus

A woman who struggles with vaginismus may develop a fear of sex because she is scared of any discomfort she may feel, especially upon penetration.

Vaginismus is a condition when the vaginal muscles suddenly tighten and clench without reason and this can make sex extremely painful.

For some women with this problem, penetration is impossible without treatment, which often involves a course of dilators to slowly help the muscles to relax. [Read: What does a vagina feel like? 21 confessions from men]

It’s important to remember that not everyone who struggles with a fear of sex may fall into one of the categories above. It may also be a fear that has developed for no specific reason you can identify.

However, in this case, there is likely to be a deeper cause underneath that needs to be rooted out. Understanding the common triggers and causes may help you to understand the issue more deeply.

How to overcome genophobia and the fear of sex

No one wants to have genophobia and live with the fear of sex… literally no one. But reading this will help. First, know that you’re not alone. [Read: The virgin’s guide to acting like she has experience]

1. Find the root problem

No one simply just develops a fear of sex overnight. Something has to have happened at some point to affect how you feel about yourself, your body, and sex in general. Do you have a past of physical and/or sexual abuse? Are you having self-esteem issues with your body?

To every fear, there is a core – the center which started it all. You need to sit down with yourself and open yourself.

What happened in your past to get you to this point? It may be something that causes the emotional floodgates to open, but stick with it. By getting to the root of the problem, you can start to heal. [Read: How to be fearless – 18 ways to set aside fear and live like a champion]

2. Understand the symptoms

Maybe you’re not sure if you do have genophobia, the fear of sex. However, with anxiety, comes symptoms. If you’re watching a sex scene in a movie or making out with your partner, try to become aware of your symptoms.

Now, they’re different for everyone, but the main symptoms of genophobia are panic, terror, shortness of breath, increased heartbeat, sweating, crying, avoidance, and shaking.

You could try keeping a journal of how you feel and what is happening around you at the time. That will help you to look for patterns and draw conclusions from there.

3. Know there’s no magical, overnight cure

Like we said before, everyone is different. So, if you think there is just a magical pill to cure this, there’s not. Your recovery from this is greatly tied to the cause of your genophobia. Though, that doesn’t mean you won’t be able to move past this phobia. You will, but it’ll take a while.

If you feel like you’re struggling with a medical problem associated with sexual function, such as erectile dysfunction or vaginismus, seek help from your doctor. Identify the root cause and then assess the best course of action based upon that. [Read: First time sex and the virgin’s guide to nailing it]

4. Don’t rush it

It’s important to remember that it takes time to overcome fears. Even if you start treatment for the root cause of the problem, you’re not going to suddenly click your fingers and get rid of your fear of sex overnight.

Know that it’s going to take time and make peace with the fact. You’re taking action to face your fear and overcome it, and that’s brave. Know that it’s enough for now and don’t rush yourself.

It’s easy to think “oh, I feel a bit better” and then try and expose yourself to a trigger that would normally cause you to feel anxious. But, if you do that too soon, you’re simply going to end up back at square one and probably feel like your fear-facing route isn’t working. The truth is, it probably is working, you just need to give it a little longer.

5. Don’t be afraid to talk to a therapist

To be honest, if you don’t have a group of support people around you, you won’t be so giving with information. Makes sense, though, this is a delicate topic.

Even if you’re talking to friends and family about your fear of sex, you should also consider consulting a therapist. They’ll be able to look at your issue as a third person and will also have tools for you to use during the treatment. [Read: Emotional baggage – How to help someone put it down and find freedom]

This is especially the case if you’re struggling with past sexual abuse or rape. These aren’t experiences you can simply block out and get over without a struggle.

A therapist can help you to navigate the emotions you’re experiencing and unpick the experiences that have led you towards your fear of sex. It will be a difficult road but one that will free you from the ghosts of the past.

6. Talk to your partner

If you’re in a relationship with someone, it’s likely your genophobia is causing issues within your relationship. So, you need to talk to them about it.

They may be thinking that your lack of intimacy is because of them. What you need to do is talk to them and ensure them this isn’t because of them. It won’t be easy but if your partner loves you, they’ll listen, understand and support you any way they can.

Don’t be afraid to open up – it’s brave to talk about how you feel and it’s the first step to overcoming genophobia. [Read: How to communicate in a relationship – 16 steps to a better love]

7. Do not accept your anxiety

Many people learn to adapt to their anxiety and live their life with it. However, you don’t have to do that.

Anxiety isn’t productive and it won’t allow you to grow as a person. Yes, you have anxiety, however, you should not let that be an acceptable factor in your life.

You also shouldn’t have to live your life without sexual intimacy. It’s an important and fulfilling part of a relationship and by simply accepting your fear as part of your life, you’re missing out on the happiness that a fulfilling sex life with a loving partner can bring. Instead, focus upon overcoming the fear.

8. Is it your first time?

If your fear of sex is simply because you’re still a virgin, well, that’s understandable. Seeing sex in movies is much different than what actually happens in real life – it definitely doesn’t go as smoothly. But really, we’re not saying that to comfort you – sex is messy. Take your time and only go through with it when you’re ready. Talk to your partner and explain how you feel.

A caring and patient partner will make your first experience special, when you decide you’re ready and not a second before. [Read: Dry humping and the virgin’s guide to orgasms]

9. Don’t follow porn

Porn is made to get people off, and for that purpose, it works. But listen, porn isn’t real.

Girls do not normally have breasts like that and men do not have skyscraper-length penises. Don’t allow porn to control your sex life, because porn isn’t real and it will give you unrealistic ideas and expectations. [Read: 25 common porn myths many people still believe]

10. Learn about anatomy

If you’re suffering from genophobia, one way to increase your confidence is to study the human body. Learn where the scrotum, clitoris, testicles, and labia are. Knowing about the body will help you relax since you’re already prepared.

That being said, don’t learn about the human body through pornography, it’s not going to help you. Instead, use medical websites and sources of information that are reliable and realistic.

11. Find the right person

You don’t have to have a one-night stand – you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to. If you’re trying to let go of your fear of sex, make sure that you are with someone you trust and someone who’ll be able to guide you through it and be patient.

You want to be comfortable and safe with the person you’ll be having sex with. If it means waiting a while for the right person to come along, so be it. You’ll have a much more positive and enjoyable experience as a result.

[Read: Tantric sex – the beginner’s guide to awakening your sexuality one step at a time]

If you suffer from genophobia – the fear of sex – if you put your mind to it, you’ll overcome it. And then sex will slowly be an enjoyable activity for you. It’s going to take some time, but once you find someone you’re comfortable with, you’ll get there.

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The editorial team of LovePanky comprises relationship experts and real-life experts that share their experiences and life lessons. If you want the best love ad...