There are circumstances that are normal for people to lose interest in sexual activity such as after childbirth, recovery from surgery, menopause or during menstruation. Depression, fatigue or emotional stress and life changes such as the loss of a loved one, job change, divorce or retirement are other causes. These causes are considered to be generally temporary.

A person who has been diagnosed with sexual aversion disorder represents a condition with a much stronger dislike of being intimate with a partner or its possibility and is put off by the thought of genital contact, finding it even disgusting and distasteful and might avoid any sexual contact. Sexual aversion disorder can also be characterized as an anxiety disorder as the patient might be afraid of sex.

The aversion comes in different forms and may only be related to specific aspects of sexual intercourse. People suffering from sexual aversion disorder often go out of their way to try and avoid any situation that could end in sexual contact. This could mean staying out late until the partner is already asleep, working overtime or making himself or herself less attractive.

Whereas low testosterone levels might be the cause of lack of interest in intimate contact, in some cases a sexual aversion disorder is developed by interpersonal problems within a relationship due to missing communication between partners if emotional needs are not met when having intercourse. Hence these symptoms of sexual aversion disorder only occur with a specific partner or under certain conditions.

The disorder is often associated with a history of sexual abuse or another type of trauma that leads to a sometimes-lifelong phobic response to sexual activity. Sexual aversion disorder is thought to be more common in woman than in men as they are more likely to be victims of rape, incest, molestation and other forms of sexual assault even in their early childhood. The patient may then associate sex with a painful memory that she or he is trying to forget. There have been reports that one in three women in Australia have reported sexual violence over their lifetime and 29% experienced it before the age of 16.

Men are estimated to have a 1:6 ratio, having experienced sexual abuse in their childhood or violence, as there is low incidence for males in adulthood. But as many victims find it difficult to talk about their trauma, the number of people who seek help because of their sexual aversion disorder are unfortunately fewer than needed since the disorder often gets confused with other ones if the patient does not inform the professional about the experienced abuse. Especially in men sexual aversion disorder often complicates the diagnosis, as there are other sexual disorders such as premature ejaculation or erection problems, which might sometimes lead to a variety of ways to avoid sexual contact due to fear of unsatisfactory performance.

A diagnosis is usually made when the affected person mentions the problem itself to a medical professional such as gynaecologist or physician since the condition often causes serious difficulties and unhappiness for either the patient or the partner. Doctors will then suggest a full examination to rule out physical causes of the disorder such as lack of female lubrication, which causes physical discomfort and intercourse might be painful.

It is important to seek a professional who provides medical services as well as support services for people with sexual dysfunction. A males patient’s embarrassment might even be taken away knowing that the licensed doctor has treated all kinds of sexual dysfunction such as premature ejaculation to help him work with the issue.

The good news is that there is an appropriate treatment for this disorder for those willing to take the steps to a happy and satisfying sexual relationship. This requires the commitment to work with a professional and take certain medication if the condition is severe enough to cause panic attacks or other distress, usually followed by regular psychotherapy as well as couples counselling to resolve interpersonal conflicts and help to deal with the patients’ anxiety.