Sexual anorexia or anaphrodisia is characterized by not only sexual inapetence, but by hatred of sexuality and everything related to sex, away from it and are people obsessed with avoiding sex. These behaviors can cause them bad relationships with the couple especially, but also affect in other areas, whether family or social or work, but not always. It usually occurs in both sexes, although it is usually observed especially in men.

What is it?

Patrick J. Carnes was one of the pioneers in diagnosing this disorder, who defines it as “an obsessive state in which the physical, emotional and mental task of avoiding sex dominates someone’s life.” He wrote the book “Sexual anorexia: how to overcome the fear of sexuality”, focusing that patients tend to be afraid of sexual relations, completely rejecting sexual relations with other people, even with themselves.

The person refuses to have sex, especially with penetration, hindering intimacy with the couple, and also emotional contact. The lack of communication, interest, or simply, the modesty, shame or fear that may arouse you can lead you to unusual states, with constant apathy, negativity, introversion and of course, rejection of intimacy.

Of course, a person suffering from sexual anorexia does not have to suffer from it in other aspects of his life, since it can be perfectly normal with family, friends and other types of relationships. You can perfectly go to eat at a restaurant, go out with friends, make a normalized life, except for the sexual part, either from what is your own recognition of your sexual pleasure, negativity to pleasure, either individually or shared .

Also, not feeling attracted to any person, not wanting to have sex for health reasons, having stopped feeling attracted to the current or previous sexual love partner, do not imply sexual anorexia. Only if it causes stress to the person, it is considered a disorder, because if it is not, it is not anorexia.

Causes and characteristics of people with sexual anorexia

They are very demanding, obsessive and perfectionist people with themselves and with others. It is possible that they have suffered sexual abuse in childhood or adults, or have been victims of ill-treatment and / or gender violence, as well as coming from unfriendly families, with addiction pictures or self-destructive behaviors.

A very strict education about sexuality, whether from school, cultural, religion or the family itself, is what usually determines sexually anorexia in people of both sexes. Biologically, it is possible that the causes are of biological origin, such as low testosterone (in both sexes), low estrogen levels, hypothyroidism, low levels of the hormone prolactin, penile fractures, sperm disorders, etc. Some surgeries Painful genital or other body regions, breast surgeries, menopause, and some sexual disorders such as erection and vaginismic disorders, can be causes of sexual anorexia, as well as some mental disorders, such as obsessive compulsive disorder, anorexia nervosa, Bipolar disorder and depressive disorder, among others, in addition to self-destructive behaviors. An excess of stress, the lack of release of norepirephrine and cortisol, also influence.

Some drugs can cause side effects, for example, antidepressants or hypertensives, as well as some contraceptive methods, such as the sex pill, the IUD, the vaginal ring, and all methods that may contain hormones.

They tend to suffer distortions about the possible body, ignoring their own sexual pleasure and other functions, being afraid of being rejected, having been rigid about sexuality and behavior in general, being afraid to be honest with others. It is also possible that they have been bored of sex by sexual routine, and have obsessive doubts about sexuality, especially for what is considered within the limits of normality and functioning of some of the organs, as well as fear of being able to contract a sexually transmitted infection, or having previously contracted it. Traumatic sexual experiences and / or painful sexual relations are also triggers of sexual anorexia.

A poverty of emotional expression is usually detected, the difficulty of expressing their sexual desires, denial of their own pleasure or love, and feeling unpleasantly physical usually influences. Many times they are attracted to people who are engaged or have a sexual love partner.

Low self-esteem, negative thoughts, indecision, sudden demotivation, quickly dismiss decisions that imply a healthy risk, that is, leaving the comfort zone of this situation, as well as, in an excessive way, intellectualize, observe distancing strategies ( avoid dating, intimate friendships, behave in a grand or inferior way, withdraw or isolate yourself from the couple, etc.)

They tend to worry excessively about family activities or childcare, as well as possibly about work. They may also be or have been continuously exposed to family overprotection. They may have suffered the death of a family member. They are afraid to have fun with others, as well as possible social rejection, as well as fear or resentment towards those who are socially active. They feel uncomfortable with the couple. They are afraid of feeling misunderstood with the environment, not feeling properly accepted, enclosing themselves too much to avoid being hurt again, using safety mechanisms such as keeping secrets, pretending to be busy all the time, etc.

They may develop addictions to drugs, especially alcohol, or they may be the cause of sexual anorexia. Excessive obsession with work (work alcoholic), excessive concern for family activities or childcare, financial indebtedness, excessive savings, TV, internet, etc.

Possible consequences

Bad behaviors towards sexuality lead to bad love relationships, since both members are not always in the same position or have the same ideology: they do not allow intimacy with another person, denial of sexual relations, even if they are in love, express rejection or avoidance of all types of sexuality (aversion, fear, excessive worry, shame, disgust …)

They hate their own body, they don’t like each other, they find it disgusting, they can suffer from a dysmorphic body disorder, they feel guilt and shame, neglecting their physical appearance, observing themselves in this way overweight and obesity: replacing sex with food, thus relieving feelings of anxiety, overprotection, and feeling physically and mentally unwanted to avoid sexual intercourse.

They develop body sensitivity, as well as feelings of inferiority, awkwardness, without love resources, feeling ridiculous, which can develop in social phobias and psychological problems.

They tend to abuse drugs, be self-demanding, sometimes they self-mutilate, in addition to developing addictions to work, cleaning, indebtedness, hoarding, saving, food, codependency, social phobia or other phobias.

In sexual physical form, premature ejaculation is observed in man, difficulty in reaching orgasm, or lack thereof, self-destructive behaviors in order not to have, maintain or limit sexual intercourse, perceiving intercourse as a threat, although sometimes they can lead to periods of sexual bulimia: sexual “bingeing”, exorbitant sexual relations, intake of pornographic and sexual material in an addictive way, falling into a vicious conjugated circle of anorexia and sexual bulimia.

Many of them belong to groups that encourage repulsion and negativity towards sex, whether culturally or religiously. They usually stop having contact with people other than their family or mandatory joint activities (such as work) and being within reach of them. Thus, sometimes they feel more powerful and protected from possible diseases, especially of sexual transmission, even if it is not entirely true.

How to detect sexual anorexia

If you identify with more than 5 points of the following, you are suffering from sexual anorexia:

  • dread of sexual pleasure
  • consistent fear of sexual contact
  • obsessive surveillance of sexual issues
  • evasion of something related to the sexual
  • concern that other people are sexual
  • distortions on the appearance of the body itself
  • extreme aversion to bodily functions
  • obsessive doubts about sexual normality
  • rigid judgments and attitudes about sexual behavior
  • fear and excessive concern towards sexually transmitted diseases
  • obsessive interest or restlessness around the supposed sexual intentions of others
  • shame and dislike related to sexual experience
  • desperation related to sexual functioning
  • evasion of intimacy due to sexual fears
  • self-destructive behavior that limits, stops or avoids the sexual

It is possible to analyze if it is a primary or secondary sexual anorexia: the primary sexual anorexia is characterized since the person has suffered it from childhood without any apparent cause, while the secondary one has occurred due to some anecdote or traumatic event that causes the Individual avoid sexual intercourse.


First of all, go to a specialist on the subject, since not everyone treats these types of problems. The comfort and being able to speak with the professional or specialist is extremely important, since if there is no empathy, the cure of the patient will not be possible.

The diagnosis of a urologist and / or gynecologist is essential to rule out other possible causes (such as side effects of medications) and certify sexual anorexia, ruling out a physiological cause, as well as make a thorough diagnosis to rule out any possible disease or pathology such as obsessive disorders, depression, substance abuse, etc.

If you have a partner, it would be interesting and necessary to go to sexual love partner therapies that allow you to help thoughts flow naturally, especially those related to sexual fantasies: communicate to the couple what they feel, face the sexual experience and try, little by little, to include penetration and other practices that may be pleasing to both members of the sexual loving couple, such as caresses, massages, baths, etc.

Especially what matters is to re-educate the individual about sexuality and their own body in a positive way. Forgive the aggressors, change sexual behavior and approach other people, both in a friendly way and when the opportunity arises with someone with whom you feel loving sexual attraction, trust, touch, know, understand and learn pleasant sensations with the body itself. They do not have to be sexual, like practicing sports to mitigate anxiety in general, both aerobic and relaxation techniques, breathing, yoga, pilates, stretching, etc.

This article is purely informative, we have no power to make a diagnosis or recommend a treatment. We invite you to go to a psychologist to discuss your particular case.


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