Sexual Anorexia | Sex Addiction | Sex Addiction Australia
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Sexual Anorexia

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Sexual anorexia is an aspect of sexual addiction. Sexual anorexia is a term describing escalating compulsive sexual avoidance behaviours. Psychologist Nathan Hare first mentioned the concept of sexual anorexia in 1975. Psychiatrist Sylvia Kaplan made use of the concept in 1981, and this was published in the editor’s ‘Notes’ in the journal Black Male/Female Relationships. Dr Patrick Carnes, authority in sex addiction research, published his book ‘Sexual Anorexia’ in 1997.

Sexual anorexia can be defined as a fear of sexual intimacy. Persons with sexual anorexia may experience severe anxiety surrounding any sex with emotional content, i.e. in intimate relationships.


Individuals with sexual anorexia MAY be sexual addicts simultaneously, and engaging in paid sex activities, anonymous sex, using prostitutes, and frequent strip clubs, but lack the ability to form relationships involving emotional intimacy.


Sexual anorexics do not have an aversion to sex itself, but suffer the symptoms of emotional intimacy disorder. Sexual anorexia follows a cycle of acting in and acting out, in similar ways as sexual addiction. The anorexic cycle involves stages of preoccupation with severe sexual fears, and planning forward strategies of avoiding any possible intimate sexual encounter.

Symptoms include;

  • Distortion of thoughts
  • Obsessional self-doubt about sexual adequacy
  • Distortion of body image
  • Obsessive exercising
  • Unattractive self-presentation
  • Making oneself unavailable for sex
  • Fear of sexual pleasures
  • Self-destructing sex-avoiding behaviours, and depression
  • Extreme shame and self-loathing over sexual experiences
  • Psychosomatic illness that preclude sexual activity
  • Extreme loathing of body functions
  • Eliminating anything that could possible stimulate sexual arousal
  • In extreme cases – self-mutilating of body parts to make oneself unattractive
  • Occasional periods of sexual binging and extreme promiscuity

Sexual anorexics MAY compensate their lack of intimacy with a number of compulsive behaviours;

  • Chemical and behavioural addictions
  • Compulsive cleaning
  • Compulsive money behaviours
  • Compulsive hording
  • Phobias


Professional counselling and sex therapy can assist the sexual anorexic to address and overcome their sexual fears and intimacy aversions, and to develop an ability to engaging in healthy intimate sexual relationships.

Please contact Sex Addiction Australia for further information and booking of confidential consultations, call Heide (+61) 02 9380 4486 or email