home

How could we improve it?

close
chevron
This article contains false or inaccurate information.
chevron

Please tell us what was incorrect.

wanring-icon
Please note that you do not need to fill this detail if it's inconvenient for you. Click Send My Opinion below to continue reading our site.
chevron
This article doesn't provide enough info.
chevron

Please tell us what was missing.

wanring-icon
Please note that you do not need to fill this detail if it's inconvenient for you. Click Send My Opinion below to continue reading our site.
chevron
Hmm... I have a question.
chevron

We’re unable to offer personal health advice, diagnosis, or treatment, but we welcome your feedback! Just type it in the box below.

wanring-icon
If you're facing a medical emergency, call your local emergency services immediately, or visit the nearest emergency room or urgent care center.

Or copy link

New

Sexual Aversion Disorder: What You Need to Know

Sexual Aversion Disorder: What You Need to Know

Sexual disorders refer to conditions that prevent a person from enjoying sex. One sexual disorder, in particular, sexual aversion disorder, is a common, yet often misunderstood condition. But what exactly does it mean to have sexual aversion disorder, and how can it be treated?

What is sexual aversion disorder?

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), sexual aversion disorder (SAD) is an avoidance or aversion to sexual contact with a partner.

For a person with SAD, even the thought of sexual contact is enough to cause them intense fear or anxiety. It’s possible for a person with SAD to have such a strong aversion that they even dislike physical contact such as holding hands, kissing, or hugging. This is because they are afraid that these actions might lead to sex.

SAD has more in common with anxiety disorders rather than other forms of sexual disorder. Some might even compare SAD to having a phobia of sex, since the symptoms that patients experience are similar to having a phobia.

However, it’s also possible for a person with SAD to have sexual desires. Some even have fantasies, or engage in masturbation. The problem lies when it comes to physical intercourse with a partner.

sexual aversion disorder 1

What causes sexual aversion disorder?

One of the main causes of sexual aversion disorder is when a person has had traumatic or negative experiences associated with sex. This could be due to physical pain or emotional trauma. Because of this, a person might start to associate their trauma with sexual intercourse, and this causes them to have an aversion to it.

It’s also possible for a person with severe anxiety to have sexual aversion disorder. There have been instances wherein a person is afraid of having sexual intercourse because they are worried that they might have a panic attack while doing it.

Diagnosis

Diagnosing SAD can be difficult, because a lot of people find it hard to open up about sex, especially if they have past unpleasant experiences. In fact, a lot of doctors believe that SAD is not a particularly rare disorder and that a lot of cases remain undiagnosed.

The most common criteria that doctors look for is an avoidance of sex. Patients with SAD can also start to feel anxious or afraid when the topic of sex comes up. Doctors might also check to see if the patient suffers from anxiety, as this can sometimes overlap with SAD.

If they think that a patient does indeed have SAD, then treatment can start.

Is it treatable?

Treatment for sexual aversion disorder is similar to that of anxiety disorder or phobias.

Patients can undergo systematic desensitization in order to help them with their problems. This involves patients thinking about different levels of sexual activities while doing relaxation exercises.

The relaxation exercises help the patients get used to thinking of these sexual activities without experiencing too much anxiety. By pairing the thoughts that cause fear or aversion with relaxation, over time, patients can start to think about sexual thoughts without having a panic attack

Once the patient is able to do this, they can then move on to the next sexual activity in the hierarchy. This is done until the patient is comfortable enough to have these scenarios with their partner without feeling anxious or having any panic attacks.

In some cases, doctors can also prescribe medication for patients suffering from anxiety. This medication can help lower their anxiety levels and makes them less prone to being afraid or anxious about sexual contact.

The most important thing for patients would be to seek help and try to be as receptive as possible while undergoing therapy.

Key Takeaways

It is important to note that having sexual aversion disorder isn’t necessarily a lack of sexual desire. A person can both have SAD, and yet be afraid or repulsed by sex.

Sexual aversion disorder is also a treatable condition. With the right kind of therapy, and assistance from a professional, SAD can be cured, and patients can enjoy a healthy sex life.

Learn more about Sexual Wellness here.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources

Sexual Dysfunction & Disorders: Treatment, Symptoms & Diagnosis, https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/9121-sexual-dysfunction, Accessed December 21, 2020

The DSM diagnostic criteria for sexual aversion disorder – PubMed, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19784769/#:~:text=Sexual%20Aversion%20Disorder%20(, Accessed December 21, 2020SAD)%20is,partner%22%20which%20causes%20distress%20or

Sexual Aversion Disorder, https://labs.la.utexas.edu/mestonlab/sexual-aversion-disorder/, Accessed December 21, 2020

The DSM Diagnostic Criteria for Sexual Aversion Disorder, https://med-fom-brotto.sites.olt.ubc.ca/files/2014/12/Brotto-2010-DSM-SAD.pdf, Accessed December 21, 2020

(PDF) Sexual Aversion and the DSM-5: An Excluded Disorder with Unabated Relevance as a Trans-diagnostic Symptom, https://www.researchgate.net/publication/263897133_Sexual_Aversion_and_the_DSM-5_An_Excluded_Disorder_with_Unabated_Relevance_as_a_Trans-diagnostic_Symptom, Accessed December 21, 2020

The Relationship Between Anxiety Disorders and Sexual Dysfunction | Psychiatric Times, https://www.psychiatrictimes.com/view/relationship-between-anxiety-disorders-and-sexual-dysfunction, Accessed December 21, 2020

Picture of the authorbadge
Written by Jan Alwyn Batara Updated Jun 01
Medically reviewed by Mary Rani Cadiz, M.D.
x