What is Sexual Anorexia?
Sexual anorexia is the compulsive avoidance of sex and matters that relates to sex. The word was coined by sex addiction expert Dr. Patrick Carnes.
The word anorexia means without appetite (anorexia being derived from the Greek word, orexis), so sexual anorexia refers to a lack of sexual appetite.
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Carnes presents sexual anorexia as a form of sex addiction in his book, Sexual Anorexia: Overcoming Sexual Self-Hatred.
Some common characteristics of sexual anorexics can include:
- Persistent fear of sexual intimacy, sexual pleasure, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
- Negative or judgmental attitudes about sexual activities and body appearance
- Shame and self-loathing over sexual experiences
- Self-destructive behavior in order to stop or avoid sex
- Preoccupation with sexual intentions and sexual behaviors of others, and their own sexual adequacy
Who’s at Risk of Sexual Anorexia
Both gender can be affected by sexual anorexia.
- Victims of past sexual abuse or sexual rejection.
- People with sexual anorexia may also have problems with other addictions such as food addiction or substance addiction.
- Another group of people who can develop sexual anorexia are those in religious or cultural groups that involve sexual oppression, repression or other negative approaches to sexuality.
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Do Sexual Anorexics Ever Engage in Sex?
Sexual anorexics may be predisposed to occasional periods of sexual promiscuity, then starve themselves afterwards. A sexual anorexic may abstain from sex except when he’s intoxicated, meaning the restrictions around sexual countenance dissolve when inhibitions have dropped.
Sexual anorexics may still be engaged in sexual relationships, including marriage, despite their loathing of sex. The quality of the relationship is likely to be compromised by the sex avoidance of one or both partners.
Which Doctor Can Help?
The American Psychiatric Association (APA)’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), didn’t include sexual anorexia has an official diagnosis. However problems of sexual avoidance are well-recognized by psychologist, counselors, and sex therapists. If you or your partner are having difficulties with your feelings about sex or sexual expression, you may be able to get a referral to a sex therapist from your doctor.
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