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Tokophobia: Everything You Need to Know About the Fear of Pregnancy

As women, we all have a fear of an unwanted pregnancy, tokophobia. But, is it to the point where you’re terrified of becoming pregnant in general?


There’s a difference between hoping your period is going to come and the fear of being pregnant, tokophobia. There have been many times where my period was late and I freaked out that I was pregnant. I think almost every girl has had this feeling.

Irregardless if you used protection, there’s always that “what if” running through your head.

I mean, if for example, I did become pregnant, of course, I would freak out but I wouldn’t be scared of the pregnancy itself. I would be more scared if I could afford to raise the child, if the father would be involved, etc.

Your guide to tokophobia

But there are women, maybe you’re one of them, who have a fear of pregnancy. This pathological fear of pregnancy is called tokophobia. You’ve probably never heard of it before, but just because it’s not mainstream doesn’t mean women aren’t experiencing this.

I’m going to take you deeper into the world of tokophobia, so you understand what it is and how to overcome it. You don’t want this fear to prevent you from having a future.

1. What is tokophobia exactly?

Tokophobia is the pathological fear of pregnancy which results in women avoiding childbirth. Though most women are scared about giving birth, tokophobia is paired with extreme anxiety about the event. [Read: The step-by-step guide to calmly handling a pregnancy scare]

2. It can start from childhood or adulthood

Women can develop this fear as children or during their early adulthood. For some women, they saw birthing videos which traumatized them, while others heard stories of pregnancies which were less than enjoyable.

These traumatic events lead the woman to feel the fear of giving birth. Usually, tokophobia is related to the fear of labor rather than the pregnancy itself.

3. Two types of tokophobia

Tokophobia is classified into two categories: primary and secondary. So, what does this mean? Primary tokophobia is the fear of childbirth who doesn’t have any experience with pregnancy. Essentially, she has no children, so her fear doesn’t from a personal pregnancy situation.

Secondary tokophobia is the fear of childbirth after the woman herself experiences a traumatic event during the pregnancy. The birth could have been painful, the pregnancy could have been stillborn, etc. [Read: Finding peace: How to calm your mind and make peace a state of mind]

4. What makes them scared of pregnancy?

No woman is scared of pregnancy out of nowhere. Now, many women are scared of being in labor and of course, the future of herself and her child. However, usually, to have a phobia, something traumatic occurred.

Now, this trauma doesn’t have to be huge, it could just be seeing another woman give birth which freaked her out. Or hearing the screams come from the hospital room. That could be enough to give someone tokophobia.

5. Various methods for contraception

Women who suffer from tokophobia use various methods of contraception to prevent pregnancy. Now, some avoid sex in general, as this is the best way to have 100% confidence that they’re not pregnant. Others use abortion, caesarean, or adoption as alternative methods to prevent going into natural labor.

It really depends on the level of tokophobia the individual experiences. Some women will be able to stay pregnant, however, go for a cesarean due to the fear of labor.

6. There is no actual cure for it

This is a psychologically founded fear. So, there’s no pill to help cure you of your tokophobia. Because it’s all in the head, it has to be dealt with by a professional who has experience dealing with tokophobia. But you should know, that you can overcome it.

This is the thing with psychological fears, they’re all in your head, so only you have the control to overcome it.

7. But therapy does help

Therapy is the best way to help you overcome your fear of tokophobia. They’ll be able to find the root cause of when your tokophobia developed and methods you to try and help you overcome this fear.

By writing in a journal, you help realize your own fears and reflect on them. Reflection is a great way to help rationalize your actions and figure out what you’re going to do to help yourself. [Read: Be your own hero: How to take control of life]

8. Acknowledge you have this fear

If you’re in denial, come to terms that you have this fear. If not, your therapist will be able to help you accept it. Acknowledging that you suffer from tokophobia means that you realize you have it and that it’s affecting your life. This helps you see your anxiety.

9. Make sure your partner knows

If you suffer from this fear and you’re in a relationship, you need to make sure your partner knows. They’ll be able to support you.

In addition, going to therapy alone and then as a couple helps you both understand what you’re going through. Your partner doesn’t have to be there for every session. However, if they come from time-to-time to therapy, they’ll be given tools to assist you through this. [Read: 10 signs your partner is truly supportive]

10. Try meditation

Trying yoga, meditation, and other anxiety-reducing exercises really helps you to overcome tokophobia. Because this is anxiety based, you need help to reduce the anxiety, that way you have a better chance of controlling it.

Practicing mindfulness is also another great method to work through your fear. Essentially, try out a couple different methods and see which one works the best for you.

[Read: How to find your zone of perfect calmness]

Now that you know everything there is about a fear of pregnancy, if you feel that you suffer from this, seek professional help. You don’t want tokophobia to take over your life.

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Natasha Ivanovic
Natasha Ivanovic is an intimacy, dating, and relationship writer, and the creator and author of her short stories on TheLonelySerb. She completed her first degr...
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