Naomi Carr
Author: Naomi Carr Medical Reviewer: Morgan Blair Last updated:

Gynophobia is a specific phobia that relates to the fear of women. It can cause extreme anxiety and panic attacks and can have detrimental effects on functioning and quality of life. Treatment for gynophobia can include therapy, medications, and self-care.


What is gynophobia?

Gynophobia, also sometimes spelled gynephobia, is the fear of females. It can cause extreme and debilitating anxiety symptoms, including panic attacks, which can have a significant impact on the individual’s professional and social functioning and quality of life. Gynophobia can affect people of any gender [1][2].

Gynophobia is not listed as a condition in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). However, it is considered to be a specific phobia, which is a type of anxiety disorder that is included in the DSM-5. Specific phobias involve an irrational and extreme fear of a certain stimulus, which can be a person, object, situation, or experience [3].

Is gynophobia the same as misogyny?

Gynophobia refers to an uncontrollable and extreme fear of women, while misogyny refers to the hatred or contempt of women. Gynophobia is a clinical mental health condition that is not chosen, whereas misogyny stems from unwarranted prejudice and can be prevented with education on an altered belief system. As such, although both two terms describe reactions to women, one is an intentional reaction, while the other is not [3][4].

Symptoms of gynophobia

Symptoms of gynophobia may vary from person to person but can include [2][3][5][6]:

  • Experiencing an extreme and uncontrollable fear when near a female
  • Severe anxiety when thinking about talking to or interacting with a woman
  • Occurrence of panic attacks because of this fear, including physical symptoms such as rapid heart rate, trouble breathing, sweating, nausea, dizziness, feeling faint, dry mouth, and tightness in the chest
  • Avoidance of public places or situations where a female could be present
  • Inability to interact with any female in person or over the phone
  • Difficulties forming and maintaining friendships and relationships
  • Social withdrawal and isolation
  • Insomnia and other sleep disturbances
  • Nightmares about talking to or being harmed by women
  • Difficulty maintaining employment due to anxieties
  • Comorbid mental health conditions and symptoms such as depression, other anxiety disorders, OCD, PTSD, or substance abuse

Causes of gynophobia

Typically, specific phobias do not occur due to a single cause but are developed due to several contributing causes, risk factors, and triggers. These causes and the severity of the condition may differ from person to person.


Studies show that people are around three times more likely to develop a specific phobia if they have a direct relative with that phobia. Additionally, a family history of anxiety disorders can increase the likelihood of an individual developing a specific phobia. As such, this indicates that there is often a genetic predisposition to the development of gynophobia [6][7].


It is unclear to what extent genetic and environmental factors contribute to the development of specific phobias, as they are likely to impact the risk simultaneously.

For example, a child whose parent has gynophobia may be likely to inherit a genetic predisposition for the condition. Alongside this genetic factor, they may witness and learn behaviors and traits that also contribute to their development of gynophobia. This could include witnessing their parent becoming anxious around or avoiding interactions with women.

Similarly, children may become anxious around women if they grow up in a home without any female relatives or have very few interactions with women [5][8].


In some cases, specific phobias develop in response to trauma, usually experienced in childhood. For example, a child who is physically, sexually, or emotionally abused by one or more females may develop gynophobia. This is due to the fear and anxiety experienced during these traumatic experiences which reoccur throughout their life when encountering a female [2][5].

Diagnosing gynophobia

Many people with a specific phobia choose not to seek professional diagnosis and treatment and instead attempt to live with their phobia or avoid the situations that exacerbate it. However, gynophobia can have a significant impact on quality of life and daily functioning. As such, it is recommended to seek professional help to prevent worsening symptoms and detrimental effects [9].

To make a diagnosis of gynophobia, a doctor will ask questions about the presenting symptoms. This may include asking when the symptoms started, how they are affecting the individual’s life, and in which circumstances they worsen. They will also ask about the individual’s mental and physical health history, along with gathering information about their family’s health history.

They will compare these answers with the diagnostic criteria outlined in the DSM-5 for a specific phobia. Criteria that may indicate the presence of gynophobia include [3]:

  • An extreme and disproportionate level of fear and anxiety when near or interacting with a female
  • Avoidance of situations in which a female may be present
  • Significant impairments in daily, social, or professional functioning
  • Symptoms that have persisted for at least six months
  • Symptoms that are not explained by the presence of another mental health condition

Gynophobia treatment

Effective treatments for specific phobias can differ depending on the feared stimulus, the individual’s symptoms, and the responses to therapeutic and medicinal interventions. Research into the treatment of gynophobia is limited but several treatment approaches could be beneficial for this condition.


Often, specific phobias are treated with the use of talk therapy, such as [5][9][10]:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): CBT can help individuals recognize harmful thoughts and associated behaviors. It can teach ways to challenge and adjust these thought patterns to develop more positive behaviors. Additionally, it can provide skills to improve distress tolerance and coping with challenging situations.
  • Exposure therapy: Exposure therapy is a specialized type of CBT that uses systematic desensitization to improve phobia and anxiety symptoms. It involves gradually exposing the individual to their feared stimulus while utilizing coping skills to help reduce the associated distress. By the end of this treatment, the aim is for the individual to have become desensitized to their fear and experience a reduced level of distress.
  • Other types of therapy: Anxiety and trauma-related conditions can also be improved with the use of various other types of therapy, such as psychodynamic therapy, family therapy, and interpersonal therapy. The most effective approach will depend on the individual, their symptoms, and the experiences that have contributed to the development of their condition.


Several types of medication may be prescribed to help individuals manage anxiety and phobia symptoms. Again, the most effective treatments may vary from person to person, so it is recommended to discuss the options with a doctor, who can provide specialist advice. Potentially beneficial medications for gynophobia may include [5][8]:

  • Antidepressants: Antidepressant medications can be beneficial for individuals with anxiety disorders and can also improve comorbid conditions and symptoms such as depression. Commonly, doctors will prescribe antidepressants such as SSRIs, including fluoxetine and citalopram, to treat anxiety disorders.
  • Beta-blockers: Beta-blockers, such as propranolol, can be a fast-acting treatment to manage the acute symptoms of anxiety, such as panic attack symptoms. This can be helpful for individuals with gynophobia who struggle with social or professional situations due to their symptoms.
  • Benzodiazepines: Benzodiazepines, such as diazepam, are also fast-acting medications that help to reduce anxiety symptoms. However, due to the risk of dependence, abuse, and misuse, they should only be used for a short time and with caution.

While medications can help to reduce physical and emotional symptoms of anxiety in the short term, they do not manage the underlying causes of the condition. As such, it is advised to utilize medications alongside talk therapy for the most effective treatment option.


Some people may find that self-care techniques help them manage or reduce physical and psychological symptoms of anxiety disorders such as gynophobia. This may include [5][11]:

  • Taking care of physical well-being: Forming and maintaining healthy lifestyle habits can help to reduce symptoms of anxiety. This includes eating a healthy and balanced diet, following a sleep routine, avoiding alcohol and caffeine, and engaging in regular exercise.
  • Utilizing relaxation techniques: Relaxation and breathing exercises can help reduce the physical symptoms of anxiety and may be very beneficial when experiencing panic attacks. It can be a good idea to practice these techniques regularly, as this can make it easier to implement them when acute anxiety symptoms or panic attacks occur.
  • Yoga and meditation: Yoga and meditation have been found to help reduce symptoms of anxiety and other mental health conditions. They can improve self-awareness, breathing, and mindfulness, which can have positive effects on physical and emotional symptoms of anxiety.
  • Talking to others: Communicating with friends and family can help reduce symptoms of gynophobia and associated symptoms, as it provides an opportunity to share concerns and receive advice and support. Similarly, attending support groups can be beneficial, as it provides an opportunity to learn coping strategies from others with similar experiences and share challenges and worries.
  • Keeping a diary: Some people find it helpful to keep a diary, recording the symptoms they experience and in which circumstances. This can help to recognize triggers and provide a record of any coping strategies and skills that have been used and how well they have worked.

Gynophobia complications

If left untreated, gynophobia could result in several complications, such as [6][9]:

  • Significant impairments in professional or academic functioning
  • Social isolation and withdrawal
  • Inability to enter public spaces or leave the home
  • Worsening mental health symptoms, such as depression and anxiety
  • Financial losses caused by an inability to perform professional requirements
  • Decrease in physical well-being if unable to perform daily functions, such as contacting health professionals, purchasing food from supermarkets, or exercising outdoors

As such, it is crucial for individuals experiencing gynophobia to seek professional diagnosis and treatment to prevent severe consequences and significant reductions in life quality.

  1. National Library of Medicine. (n.d). Gynephobia. NLM. Retrieved from
  2. Lederer, W. (1968). The Fear of Women. Ann Arbor, MI: Grune & Stratton.
  3. American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5thEdition. Arlington, VA: APA
  4. Kendall, E. (Updated 2023). Misogyny. Brittanica. Retrieved from
  5. National Health Service. (Reviewed 2022). Phobias. NHS. Retrieved from
  6. Eaton, W.W., Bienvenu, O.J., & Miloyan, B. (2018). Specific Phobias. The Lancet. Psychiatry, 5(8), 678–686. Retrieved from
  7. Villafuerte, S., & Burmeister, M. (2003). Untangling Genetic Networks of Panic, Phobia, Fear and Anxiety. Genome Biology, 4(8), 224. Retrieved from
  8. Samra, C.K., & Abdijadid, S. (2022). Specific Phobia. In StatPearls [Internet].Treasure Island, FL: StatPearls Publishing. Retrieved from
  9. Wolitzky-Taylor, K.B., Horowitz, J.D., Powers, M.B., & Telch, M.J. (2008). Psychological Approaches in the Treatment of Specific Phobias: A Meta-Analysis. Clinical Psychology Review, 28(6), 1021-1037. Retrieved from
  10. Barnhill, J.W., (Revised 2023). Specific Phobias. MSD Manuals. Retrieved from
  11. Mind. (2021). Self-Care Tips for Phobias. Mind. Retrieved from
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Naomi Carr
Author Naomi Carr Writer

Naomi Carr is a writer with a background in English Literature from Oxford Brookes University.

Published: Oct 24th 2023, Last edited: Oct 27th 2023

Morgan Blair
Medical Reviewer Morgan Blair MA, LPCC

Morgan Blair is a licensed therapist, writer and medical reviewer, holding a master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling from Northwestern University.

Content reviewed by a medical professional. Last reviewed: Oct 24th 2023
Medical Reviewer Medical Reviewer:
Morgan Blair
Last reviewed: Oct 24th 2023 Morgan Blair