Kolpophobia is an anxiety disorder characterized by the persistent irrational fear of genitals especially female genitals. Genitals or genitalia are the external reproductive organs and in the females it is known as the vulva and generally called the Vagina. Kolpophobia is a Greek word derived from “Kolpo” meaning vagina and “Phobos” meaning fear.
Like other Specific phobias, someone experiencing this phobia undergoes intense anxiety and stress triggered by the thought or sight of the female genitals and this can affect one’s confidence and ability to interact and relate with females. Kolpophobia is synonymous with Eurotophobia which is the fear or aversion of female genitalia. It is also related to Phallophobia which is the fear of an erect penis. Kolpophobia can affect both males and females and some persons develop this phobia because of the discharge or mucus associated with genitalia.
Phobias are more severe than the normal fear sensation one feels. A person suffering from a phobia knows that their response is not rational but is unable to do anything about it. When exposed to the appropriate stimulus or trigger, phobias work by stimulating the Amygdala in the brain which deals with fear and stress. This then triggers the release of the hormones responsible for the protective fight-or-flight response of the body hence the physical responses observed in a patient.
SYMPTOMS OF KOLPOPHOBIA:
The severity of symptoms varies from person to person depending on the degree of fear. It can range from simply annoying to disabling proper functioning. Symptoms can be
- Panic attacks: This is the sudden feeling of intense fear that occurs at the sight or thought of genitals leading to several physical symptoms like Sweating, uncontrollable shaking, shortness of breath, tightness in the chest, palpitations, hyperventilation. dry mouth, lightheadedness, numbness, abdominal cramps, hot flashes, choking, Nausea, ringing in the ears, disorientation, Sense of impending doom, danger or death, fear of losing control and the need to escape. Panic attacks can be debilitating especially when you constantly fear that they may occur.
- Inhibitions and social isolation: Kolpophobia leads to the avoidance of any trigger or stimulus that can invoke thoughts or situations that can lead to exposure to genitalia especially female. The patient over time develops the feeling of self-consciousness which restrains them from interacting freely especially with women.
- Mood disorders: A person suffering from Kolpophpbia may exhibit signs of anxiety and depression. Prolonged periods of anxiety and sadness can occur as a result of self-consciousness and inability to form lasting relationships
- Loss of sexual desire: Fear of the genitalia can lead to loss of sexual desire and other sex-related issues. Anaphrodisia or sexual anorexia is a disorder characterized by low sexual appetite and is one symptom of kolpophobia.
- Inability to enter a romantic relationship. Kolpophobia can lead to a general dislike for women thus impeding the patient from going into romantic relationships. Although a topic of several debates, some persons associate the choice of Homosexuality with Eurotophobia.
These symptoms can further lead to substance abuse and contemplation of suicide when they are not properly dealt with
CAUSES OF KOLPOPHOBIA:
The specific cause of Kolpohobia is still unknown as much reaearch has not been done on it. Some people develop phobias that are not associated with any underlying factors, however, phobias have generally been associated with one or a combination of the following factors:
- Genetics: A person with a family history of anxiety disorders can be predisposed to developing anxiety disorders. Studies have shown that twins raised separately are likely to develop a similar phobia
- Traumatic experiences: Rape or sexual abuse by a female perpetrator can leave an indelible mark on a survivor especially when this occurs at an early age. This can lead to several phobias, one of which may be koplophobia.
- Changes in brain function: This can be occasioned by brain injury leading to a behavioral change. Changes occasioned by this organic disease can lead to the development of a phobia
TREATMENT OF KOLPOPHOBIA
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy: This is a type of talking therapy that aims to change the way you think and act. It is a psychotherapeutic treatment that is based on the theory that thoughts, beliefs, actions, and moods are interconnected and as such, changing negative thoughts associated with a phobia can change one’s reaction to a trigger. Together with the therapist, a person undergoing this therapy, takes a holistic look at the problem and breaks it down into separate parts. Negative thoughts that are identified are challenged and then these thoughts are counteracted with realistic thoughts. Patients with Kolpophobia can also benefit from this therapy. Other types of therapies include Dialectical Behavioural therapy (DBT), mindfulness-based therapy which makes you aware of your current feelings, and using various techniques like meditation and deep breathing helps you accept and manage your emotions.
- Exposure therapy: This is a type of behavior therapy also known as shock therapy or imaginal flooding therapy has been proven to be the best therapy for phobias. It is a form of retraining for the brain to dissociate the fear from the trigger and change the response to it. It a form of conditioning that involves gradual repeated exposure of the patient to incremental doses of the trigger to reduce the intensity of anxiety response elicited. For a patient with Kolpophobia, continuous exposure to photos of females can help in conditioning
- Hypnotherapy: It is a form of alternative medicine that utilizes guided hypnosis to reprogram the mind. Under hypnosis, a patient is relaxed, calm, and has a heightened state of awareness. This can be utilized to explore psychologically distressing issues like phobias as well as to create a positive change through suggestive therapy while the patient is in this trance. Hypnosis is done by a therapist using mental images and repetitions in a calm assertive voice. A patient with Kolpophobia can benefit from this therapy by getting the opportunity to explore the cause or trigger and then training on how to manage the associated anxiety
- Medication: medication used in Kolpophobia are prescribed basically to manage the symptoms of the phobia like anxiety and depression. Examples include
- Antidepressants: Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that regulates mood. When levels are too high or too low, they can cause anxiety or depression. Selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs) inhibit serotonin from being reabsorbed promoting its mood-stabilizing effect.
- Benzodiazepines: Drugs in this class are not to be taken without a doctors prescription as some of them have addictive tendencies and can be abused
- Beta-blockers: They prevent the palpitations, tremors, and sweating associated with panic attacks.
- Social therapy: This is a therapy that promotes the interaction of a phobic person with other people especially females such that the person can change their orientation about females and over time become more comfortable around women.