Androphobia

Overview

What is androphobia?

People who have androphobia have a fear of men. Phobia means fear, and “andros” is the Greek word for man. A person with androphobia experiences extreme anxiety or fear of men. For some people, even images of men bring on immediate phobia symptoms.

Androphobia is an old term, but the Me Too movement brought the terminology into the collective spotlight with increasing frequency. Perhaps this language can be changed to reflect that it’s an old idea with renewed attention and focus. This movement was a way to show support for survivors of sexual harassment, assault or rape.

What is a phobia?

A phobia is a common type of anxiety disorder. It causes you to develop a significant fear of something that isn’t consistent with the actual danger of the feared item. Androphobia falls under the category of a specific phobic disorder. This means that you are afraid of, or anxious around, a particular entity (in this case, males). As a result, you may avoid situations involving men or experience strong anxiety when these situations occur.

What’s the difference between androphobia and misandry?

Misandry is hatred of men. Its counterpart is misogyny, hatred of women. Someone with androphobia doesn’t hate men (misandrist). They are afraid of men (androphobic).

How common is androphobia?

Experts aren’t sure how many people have androphobia. But as many as 12% of American adults and nearly 1 in 5 teenagers experience a specific phobic disorder at some point.

Symptoms and Causes

Who is at risk for androphobia?

Women and those designated female at birth (DFAB) are twice as likely to develop a specific phobic disorder like androphobia. You’re more likely to develop a phobia if a parent or close relative has a phobia or another type of anxiety disorder. Spending a lot of time with someone who has androphobia may lead you to start having the same fears. Experts believe some people have genetic differences that make them more likely than others to develop an anxiety disorder.

Other risk factors for androphobia include having:

What are androphobia causes?

There is not always a clear cause for why people develop phobias. Often, a fear of men starts in childhood and may persist into adulthood. For some people, a past harmful or frightening experience with a male during childhood may cause androphobia. These situations may lead to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), as well as a fear of men.

You may have a direct experience or witness an event, such as:

  • Child abuse, domestic abuse or other violence.
  • An intimidating or overbearing authority figure or bully (teacher, parent or boss).
  • Sexual assault, harassment or rape.

What do people with androphobia fear?

Androphobia affects everyone differently. You may be:

  • Able to be around men you trust like a relative or spouse, but not other men.
  • Unable to be around any men without experiencing panicky symptoms.
  • Anxious just thinking about being in close proximity to men or seeing visual images of men.
  • Avoiding any situation that puts you near men.

What are androphobia symptoms?

A child who fears men may scream, cry, run away or try to hide from a man. These reactions may improve as a child gets older. Adults with androphobia are often aware that their fear of men is irrational, but they can’t control their physical responses.

Androphobia symptoms range from mild to extreme. They can include:

  • Dizziness.
  • Dry mouth.
  • Extreme feeling of dread or terror.
  • Inability to speak or stuttering.
  • Nausea.
  • Stomach pain.
  • Profuse sweating (hyperhidrosis).
  • Rapid breathing and heart rate.
  • Shaking or trembling.
  • Muscle tension.
  • Headache.
  • Aching or tense muscles.

Diagnosis and Tests

How is androphobia diagnosed?

There isn’t an androphobia test, but the pattern of symptoms common to androphobia are diagnosed in the same way as other specific phobias. A mental health professional like a psychologist can evaluate your symptoms and make a diagnosis.

The following factors need to be present for a specific phobic disorder diagnosis:

  • An intense fear of men is present for at least six months.
  • Symptoms almost always occur immediately when you are near men or think about being near men.
  • Anxiety or fear causes you to avoid situations where men may be present.
  • The fear affects your ability to work, socialize and enjoy life.
  • Feelings of fear or anxiety don’t match the actual danger.

Management and Treatment

What are androphobia treatments?

Many people learn to overcome androphobia with the help of a mental health professional and psychotherapy (talk therapy). You may benefit from one or more of these treatments:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): With CBT, you learn to change your perceptions and responses to situations that cause symptoms. For people who have been through traumatic events leading to a phobia of men, this therapy can also address thoughts and beliefs about your history and experiences.
  • Exposure therapy: You gradually face your fear through continual exposures to images or situations that cause symptoms in order to learn how to tolerate and eventually reduce symptoms of anxiety. Exposure therapy helps up to 90% of people who have specific phobias.
  • Medications: Anti-anxiety drugs may be helpful for short-term use while you’re getting psychotherapy. The medicines can make it easier for you to make the transition to being near men while minimizing symptoms. For other people, long-term medication use is needed to manage their anxiety symptoms.

What are the complications of androphobia?

People who have an extreme fear of men may find it difficult to function in society. You may develop depression or have panic attacks. Ongoing panic attacks, or worries about having an attack, can lead to panic disorder. Many of the therapies used for androphobia can also be used to treat panic disorder. You may also need anti-anxiety medications.

Panic attack symptoms include:

  • Noncardiac chest pain.
  • Racing heart rate.
  • Symptoms like a heart attack.
  • Feeling dizzy, lightheaded, unsteady or faint.
  • Chills or hot flashes.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Feeling of choking.
  • Nausea.
  • Stomach pain.
  • Profuse sweating (hyperhidrosis).
  • Shaking or trembling.
  • Numbness or tingling (paresthesia).
  • Fear of losing control or going crazy.
  • Fear of dying.
  • Feeling that things aren’t real (derealization).
  • Feeling that you are outside your body (depersonalization).

Living With

When should I call the doctor?

You should call your healthcare provider if you experience:

  • Panic attacks.
  • Persistent anxiety that interferes with daily life or sleeping.
  • Signs of depression.
  • Substance use problems.

What questions should I ask my doctor?

You may want to ask your healthcare provider:

  • What is causing this phobia?
  • What is the best treatment for me?
  • Should I try exposure therapy?
  • How long will I need therapy?
  • Should I watch for signs of complications?

A note from Cleveland Clinic
A fear of men can make it difficult to work, socialize, travel, have a relationship or do many of the things that bring joy to most people. Avoiding men altogether isn’t realistic. A mental health professional can help you overcome androphobia. You may benefit from exposure therapy, as well as CBT or other therapies, depending on the event that is causing the phobia.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 10/25/2021.

References

  • American Psychological Association. What Is Exposure Therapy? (https://www.apa.org/ptsd-guideline/patients-and-families/exposure-therapy) Accessed 11/15/2021.
  • Merck Manual (Consumer Version). Phobic Disorders (Phobias). (https://www.merckmanuals.com/home/quick-facts-mental-health-disorders/anxiety-and-stress-related-disorders/phobic-disorders-phobias) Accessed 11/15/2021.
  • Merck Manual (Consumer Version). Specific Phobic Disorders. (https://www.merckmanuals.com/home/mental-health-disorders/anxiety-and-stress-related-disorders/specific-phobic-disorders) Accessed 11/15/2021.
  • National Health Service (UK). Overview: Phobias. (https://www.nhs.uk/mental-health/conditions/phobias/overview/) Accessed 11/15/2021.
  • National Institute of Mental Health. Specific Phobia. (https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/specific-phobia) Accessed 11/15/2021.

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