We often hear about those suffering with sex addictions, but rarely do we stop to consider those suffering with the opposite issue: sexual anorexia.
Based on the eating disorder, anorexia, we easily interpret the term sexual anorexia to mean lack of sexual activity. In more accurate terms, Psychology Today defines sexual anorexia as compulsive avoidance of sexual nourishment and intimacy.
This is something that affects countless people, and many may be uncertain that this term applies to them. Much like food anorexia, those affected by this disorder, refuse all and any type of sexual nourishment, specifically emotional. Whether we want to admit it or not, a small part of us requires an emotional connection with another individual in order to be entirely fulfilled.
To compare sexual anorexia to sexual addiction: when somebody addicted to sex has an episode, and acts out, they may go on a bender. Comparatively, when somebody struggling with sexual anorexia has an “episode,” they starve themselves of intimacy, and feel as though they unworthy of love or affection. They also fear rejection, avoiding specific situations.
#1 Sexual anorexia may be the result of previous sexual abuse. While this may not be true for all cases of sexual anorexia, it is a cause for some. The violation carries on throughout the rest of their lives and creates this feeling of isolation from all other intimate partners. The thought of physical touch frightens these people because they fear it may trigger the past experience with sexual abuse. [Read: When you love but don’t want to be loved in return]
#2 Many people suffer from sexual anorexia because of a form of body dysmorphia, where they feel self-conscious about their body. However, it is important to note that body dysmorphia is just the common feeling of being uncomfortable with the way your body looks. It goes much deeper than that. Body dysmorphia is a severe disorder. Someone isolates themselves from various social interactions because they obsess over a specific feature of their body, and how it may be perceived by other people.
They feel as though their thighs are “fat.” In reality their thighs are quite average, or even rather small. Their perception of their body is different from the way the public views their body. This develops into a thought that constantly cycles through their minds. [Read: How to find yourself when it feels like you’ve lost your way]
#4 One can experience sexual anorexia in the middle of a long-term relationship. They make attempts to avoid any romantic connection with their partner, because they do not want to be intimate. Once again, it is important to be patient with your partner. Understanding this is the result of something that happened in their lives, either recently or in their childhood, is the first step in helping them overcome sexual anorexia.
It is also important to note some individuals may cycle between sexual addiction and sexual anorexia, depending on their circumstances. It does not have to be one or the other.
Overcoming sexual anorexia
Just as it is true with any mental health issue, be patient with somebody who suffers from sexual anorexia. It is important to remember it is not a conscious choice made. It is a deep psychological issue to be addressed by properly trained professionals. Consistent therapy is the best option for those suffering from sexual anorexia.
Treating sexual anorexia
As previously stated, therapy is the number one solution to any sort of mental health disorder/issue. You should not be afraid to seek help, because it is the only way to truly heal. At some point in our lives, we all need to reach out for help. We cannot conquer all of our demons on our own, we need assistance sometimes. We should not be ashamed of admitting this.
There are medications that can be prescribed by a doctor to assist in the healing process. Medications cannot be the only solution. The underlying issues need to be discussed between you and a qualified therapist. Medications make everyday life easier for those suffering with sexual anorexia. It basically acts as a Band-Aid fix for the overall issue.
If you are in a long-term relationship, discuss this issue with your partner. Not only is it important for them to know and understand what you go through, it is also important for you to explain how you feel to your partner. In order for them to fully understand your circumstances, they need to be told. Don’t hide this from your partner. Most importantly, don’t hide this from yourself. [Read: The 4 attachment styles and how they impact your relationship]
If you think you may be suffering from sexual anorexia, reach out to your doctor and ask for assistance. Your mental health is just as, if not more, important than your physical health. If you are not mentally healthy, you cannot possible be physically healthy. You need to take care of your mind and body. That begins with being honest with yourself and your loved ones.
Sexual anorexia affects numerous people that may not even be aware that they are affected by the disorder. If you avoid intimacy and feel uncomfortable receiving or giving affection, seek assistance in the healing process. It all begins with you.
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Brett is a health and wellness blogger who aims to inspire her readers to live happy, fulfilled lives. She follows a plant-based lifestyle and lives in a tiny a...