Don't Like Anything to Do with Sex? You May Have Sexual AnorexiaDo you hate anything sexual? Do you avoid sex or any type of sexual feelings? You may have sexual anorexia.

Sexual anorexia is an aversion to being sexual. Sexual anorexics sometimes will go to extreme measures to avoid being sexual with others. Some symptoms of sexual anorexia include, but are not limited to:

 • Rigid, judgmental attitudes
 • Dread of sexual pleasure
 • Despair after sexual contact
 • Avoidance of anything connected with sex

At times, the sexual anorexic can follow a binge/purge cycle, engaging in sexually promiscuous or addictive behaviors for a time, then refraining from any sexual behavior for a time.

It is also possible for a person to have uncommitted sex while concurrently refraining from any sexual activity in the context of their committed relationship.

Additionally, there are people who refrain from sexual activity due to extreme anxiety surrounding the actual sex act. This type of sexual anorexic often feels so emotionally fragile that they prefer isolation to risking any type of potential rejection. At times, the sexual anorexic has such an extreme aversion to their own sexuality that they refrain from being sexual in isolation as well.

In the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition — the diagnostic reference manual — the sexually anorexic state falls under the category of Sexual Aversion Disorder. It is described as “extreme aversion to, and avoidance of all (or almost all) genital contact with a sexual partner.”1

While sexual anorexia is a form of Sexual Aversion Disorder, the definition can be expanded to include the accompanying emotional states. These often are highly complex and multifaceted, and are disturbing to the afflicted person, often causing interpersonal struggles. Such struggles can include extreme loathing of one’s body, rigid attitudes regarding the sexual behavior of self and others, and the accompanying distress and anxiety of such states of mind.

A large percentage of sexual anorexics report some form of abuse in their family of origin, either of a sexual or emotional nature. Many of these individuals grew up in homes with rigid and judgmental attitudes, or had family members who were disengaged or had some form of addiction themselves.

Examining past issues and looking at current coping mechanisms in a safe and nonjudgmental individual or group therapy setting can be very helpful. The sexual anorexic can benefit greatly from professional treatment with a skilled therapist trained in love and sex addiction.

Footnotes:

  1. In the new DSM-5, sexual aversion disorder is no longer a distinct disorder, but rather coded under “Other Specified Sexual Dysfunction.” []

 


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    Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 26 Jun 2013
    Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.

APA Reference
Katehakis, A. (2013). Don’t Like Anything to Do with Sex? You May Have Sexual Anorexia. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 26, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2013/06/26/dont-like-anything-to-do-with-sex-you-may-have-sexual-anorexia/

 

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