Sex Anxiety: Why You May be Avoiding a Sex Life


From the moment we are exposed to media and advertisement, sex can be found almost everywhere. Although sex is largely viewed as a solely physical interaction, the emotional aspect of sex is strongly tied to our arousal, too. The idea of being sexual can cause someone severe distress, rather than pleasure, when suffering from sexual aversion disorder.

When people suffering from sexual aversion disorder are confronted with an intimate situation, their body reacts with their sympathetic nervous system using a response called “fight or flight.” This response causes the body to release stress hormones, such as epinephrine or norepinephrine, in a series of reactions that are designed to help someone deal with a threatening situation. By associating sexual activity with a threat, people are not able to properly deal with the underlying cause of this distress, and, furthermore, distance themselves from any form of intimacy. Through this pattern, people additionally reinforce themselves to avoid sexual contact by conditioning the avoidance as a reliever of their underlying distress.

This disorder can be acquired in a multitude of ways. The causes include sexual violence during childhood or later in life, stress, depression, alcohol and drug use, or a lack of a certain substance in the body. To learn more about the specific causes and treatments for sexual aversion disorder, please continue to follow our blog posts at Arista Psychological & Psychiatric Services.

If you believe that you are a loved one has or may have sexual aversion disorder, or sex anxiety, the psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatric nurse practitioners or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling can help you. Contact our Bergen County, NJ or Manhattan offices respectively at (201)-368-3700 or (212)-722-1920 to set up an appointment

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Sources: Brotto, L. A. (2010). The DSM diagnostic criteria for sexual aversion disorder. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 39(2), 271-7. doi:

By: Margalit I. Herzfeld



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