Sexual Dysfunction Aversion Disorder

Sexual aversion disorder is a condition in which sufferers avoid sexual activity. This psychological disorder is known by several other names including:

  • frigidity
  • hypoactive sexual desire
  • inhibited sexual desire
  • sexual apathy.

Left untreated, sexual aversion disorder can lead to stress and strained relationships. Although the condition can occur in both men and women, sexual aversion disorder in men is thought to occur less frequently than it does in women.

Symptoms of Sexual Aversion Disorder

Sexual feelings and desire fluctuate during the course of life. Everyone has ups and downs in sexual desire that are influenced by fatigue, hormonal changes and stressful life situations. However, sexual aversion disorder is much more extreme. True sexual aversion disorder is characterized by the following symptoms:

  • avoidance of sexual contact
  • fear of sexual contact (including dizziness, panic attacks, rapid heartbeat and shortness of breath)
  • lack of sexual desire
  • revulsion or disgust from sexual contact.

These symptoms may appear in a specific way — such as a feeling of disgust at the sight or odor of a partner’s genitals — or they may be a more generalized aversion to any type of sexual contact or thought. Some people with sexual aversion disorder are able to kiss and caress without difficulty but cannot continue once genital contact occurs. Others are unable to tolerate any sexual contact, including kissing.

People with sexual aversion disorder often go to extreme measures to avoid sex. They may change their bedtime so they don’t have to come to bed at the same time as their partner or spend extra hours at work in the evening. Some people even try to make themselves unattractive to their partners so they won’t have to take part in any sexual activity.

Causes of Sexual Aversion Disorder

Sexual aversion disorder is most often caused by problems in interpersonal relationships or traumatic experience. Factors that can contribute to sexual aversion disorder include:

  • communication problems in a relationship
  • disagreements over money or children
  • domestic violence
  • infidelity
  • a partner’s lack of personal hygiene
  • rape and other forms of sexual abuse
  • religious and cultural teachings that cause guilt about sexuality.

Physical sexual dysfunctions, physical pain and hormone deficiencies can also contribute to sexual aversion.

Sexual Aversion in Personality Disorders

Certain personality disorders, such as anxiety and panic disorder, seem to be associated with sexual aversion disorder. A study conducted by the Anxiety and Depression Program of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro found that 35.7 percent of men with panic disorder also had sexual aversion disorder. The study also found that 50 percent of women with panic disorder had sexual aversion disorder.

Sexual Aversion Disorder Treatment

Treatment for sexual aversion disorder should address the individual causes of the problem. A physical exam helps to diagnose sexual aversion disorder by ruling out other conditions.

Treatment often includes marriage counseling to help resolve relationship difficulties and individual therapy to work on personal issues. Therapy for sexual aversion disorder can be very successful for people who are willing to go to regular counseling sessions.

Some people with sexual aversion disorder also find help from medication. Medicines can be prescribed to increase sexual desire and reduce feelings of anxiety and panic.

Resources

Adviware Pty Ltd. (2008). Sexual aversion disorder. Retrieved April 26, 2008, from the WrongDiagnosis.com Web site: http://wrongdiagnosis.com/s/sexual_aversion_disorder/intro.htm.

Davidson, T. A. M. (2003). Sexual aversion disorder health article. Retrieved April 26, 2008, from the Healthline.com Web site: http://www.healthline.com/galecontent/sexual-aversion-disorder.