A traumatic experience with a male during childhood may trigger androphobia, a fear of men. This includes child abuse, sexual assaults and bullies. This phobia of men may carry over into (or begin in) adulthood. You may get anxious or fearful when you're around males in social or work settings. Exposure therapy and CBT can help you overcome 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.
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.
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).
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.
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:
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:
Androphobia affects everyone differently. You may be:
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:
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:
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:
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:
You should call your healthcare provider if you experience:
You may want to ask your healthcare provider:
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.
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