"I suffer from an intense phobia of sexual intercourse, even when I'm in a relationship."

I am a 35-year-old woman and absolutely love my life.

I have a career that challenges me, that fulfils me and that I cannot wait to go to every day (well 99% of days, I am normal). I have wonderful friends and family that are supportive, that bring me laughter and that I have made countless memories with. I am healthy in mind, body and spirit, there isn’t really anything that I feel like I am missing.

Actually that is not true, there is one thing I feel my life is missing, one factor that does impact my mind and my life and that is a romantic relationship.

Over the years I have only had two long term romantic relationships with a man. My first was one that I treasure the most, one when my life was more about fun than responsibility of career and everything that comes with adulthood. It was also the only relationship I have had where I can say honestly that I had a sex life.

I suffer from genophobia, a phobia of sexual intercourse. The thought of sex fills me with complete and utter anxiety. It is at a point now where I refuse to even entertain the idea, even when I am in a relationship.

It is something that has slowly affected my romantic life since my break up with *Rob, my first partner. It wasn’t a sudden change, more like a leak that just got worse over time until it could no longer be contained.

Unlike many others that suffer from genophobia I haven’t had a traumatic event that has impacted me and resulted in this disorder, in fact up until my relationship with Rob ended I would say that sex was definitely one of my favourite pastimes. It was pleasurable, it connected us, it was romantic at times and at others raw and passionate.

But then something changed inside me and slowly but surely my desire for sex reduced, until it came to a point where the thought of it actually scared me.

fear of sex
'It came to a point where the thought of sex actually scared me.' Image via Getty.

I noticed the change when I began dating again a few months after my break up with Rob. Everything was moving comfortably, I knew that we were at a place where making the step into a sexual relationship was here but rather than the feeling I had usually experienced, one of nervousness but excitement, instead came apprehension.

I couldn’t figure out why I felt this way, I liked my partner, I was emotionally and physically attracted to him but, for some reason, the notion of having sex with him didn’t excite me like it had previously with others. In fact, it made me nervous.

*Sam and I had sex, we continued our relationship for a bit over a year and we would have sex regularly but each time this feeling of anxiety came over me until I eventually began making excuses to not sleep with him. Our relationship fizzled out, the absence of sex most definitely had an input on this, not because Sam was only concerned about the physical side of things but because we were no longer having that connection, that intimacy and it just pushed us apart.

Since then, a relationship over seven years ago, I have only had sex with one other person and I absolutely hated every minute of it.

The idea of sex makes me physically react – I sweat, I am agitated and will shake my legs or grind my teeth. My emotions are heightened, they are a mixture of dread, fear and nervousness. I hate reacting this way, I hate feeling this way.

When other people discuss sex I feel uncomfortable, I feel uneasy and embarrassed because I know the way I feel about it isn’t how others view what is considered by them to be normal human behaviour. I am fully aware my mindset is not healthy and it can be very isolating.

For years I have been working with a psychologist, a specialised sex therapist, trying to find out the underlying cause and trying to figure out strategies to help me combat this phobia.

It is undeniably what prevents me from even entertaining the notion of a romantic relationship and is undoubtedly the reason, for me personally, I don’t feel completely fulfilled with my life. It prevents me from having the family I want and ultimately it stops me from living the life I want.

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