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Sexual anorexia: What is it and what are its symptoms

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Raise your hand if you have grown up thinking sex is a sin! Not just you, many teenagers from the 90s and before have grown up to believe that any association with anything sexual is something to be frowned upon. But when you come of age, you realise that sex is supposed to be a thing of pleasure – something people enjoy, and how! This isn’t the case when you’re experiencing sexual anorexia, a term we recently came across in a post shared by sexual health educator Seema Anand on her Instagram.

Do you hate the idea of sex? Are you scared of the thought of someone touching you? If yes, you might be suffering from sexual anorexia.

What is sexual anorexia?

While what you grow up with can stay with you for a long time, so does the thought that ‘sex is sinful’. However, there could be more reasons why you might avoid sex. So, sexual anorexia could be one. It happens when a person compulsively avoids sex or intimacy due to sexual abuse, sexual rejection, childhood neglect or other trauma.

The term sexual anorexia is said to be a phrase coined and popularised by Dr Patrick Carnes, a world-renowned expert on sex addiction and treatment. The word ‘anorexia’ means ‘without hunger,’ so ‘sexual anorexia’ is ‘lack of sexual appetite’. “Sexual anorexia and sexual addiction are very similar. Both conditions leave you with obsessive thoughts around sex, make you powerless over your behaviour and will have a huge impact on every aspect of your life,” Anand writes in her post.

Also Read: How your sex life can impact mental health for better or worse

She further shares that forcibly wiping out all sexual thoughts and desires from your mind and body is similar to having an unhealthy obsession with sex. Both can lead to destructive and violent behaviour. “Sexual desires and feelings are the most natural human instinct! We all feel them, just to different degrees.”
Avoiding these feelings or shaming someone for feeling them or making them sin can leave a person with lifelong scars with lifetime scars, dysfunctional behavioural patterns, and the inability to have typical, loving relationships.

sexual anorexia
Know what is sexual anorexia.Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Symptoms of sexual anorexia

People tend to stay hush-hush when it comes to their sexual health, but they need not be. No one should let things like this screw up their life and lead to problems. It is vital to recognize symptoms of sexual anorexia in yourself or your partner or friend to make sure they are not living a life full of misery. To avoid this, here are common symptoms of sexual anorexia that you should look out for:

  • Preoccupation with all things sexual, especially the sexual intentions or acts of others
  • Fear of intimacy or any kind of sexual pleasure
  • Strongly unfavourable perceptions about sex and body appearances
  • Shame or guilt or self-loathing attitude towards sexual experiences
  • Using self-destructive methods to avoid sex

If you notice any such signs, consult your doctor to avoid complications.


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