Menophobia is the irrational fear of menstruation. Menstruation, also called a woman’s “menstrual cycle” or “period” is the process in a woman of discharging blood and other substances from the lining of the uterus at different intervals of about once a month from the moment of puberty until menopause. The only exception to this is during pregnancy where a woman will not experience menstruation.
Both women and men are susceptible to developing menophobia as it is a psychological issue and not a biological one. Someone with menophobia may find the process of menstruation to be “filthy” or “grotesque” when in reality it is a natural part of human biology that is necessary to successfully produce offspring. The underlying reasons for an irrational fear of menstruation may be due to mere ignorance of physiology and of the benefits of menstruation.
Someone with menophobia may experience extreme bouts of anxiety at the mere thought of a woman being on her period, let alone being around her. Women who have an irrational fear of menstruation may be terribly fearful of their own periods, especially when they experience them. Though different for every woman, a female’s menstrual cycle may last roughly one week. For someone with menophobia, this may be a week full of dread and terror.
This is true not only due to their irrational fears, but also due to the many natural symptoms of menstruation itself, such as nausea, bloating, lethargy, mood swings, headaches, food cravings, sore breasts, and abdominal pain, among other things. Such normal symptoms may only reinforce the deep fear a woman may have about their own period. Thus, allowing them to easily justify their menophobia.
Symptoms of Menophobia
There are many symptoms associated with menophobia that can greatly hinder someone’s quality of life. For one, someone with this mental illness may experience bouts of intense anxiety and emotional instability. It may be very difficult if not virtually impossible for them to control their emotions (without the use of coping skills). They may feel paralyzed by their fears and may feel helpless at times.
As imagined, a woman experiencing her period may have much worse symptoms of anxiety and dread as opposed to the other days of the month when she is not menstruating. The natural symptoms of menstruation such as fatigue and irritability may only exacerbate the anxiety that would have otherwise been felt as a result of their menophobia.
During their period, they may find it very difficult to go out in public or be seen by anyone as they may over-exaggerate the severity of their menstrual symptoms. They may feel as if they are so ill that they may even wish to be hospitalized for their abdominal pain and cramping. However, the irrationality of anyone experiencing menophobia will likely vary significantly from person to person.
Below, you will see some common symptoms of this phobia:
- Intense anxiety during menstruation
- Anxiety when thinking of menstruation
- Over-exaggerating menstrual symptoms
- Muscle tension, shakiness, sweating
- Difficulty or inability controlling emotions
Causes of Menophobia
There are no known causes of menophobia. However, genetics and one’s environment may play a significant role in someone developing this phobia. Someone with a family history of mental illness, especially with anxiety disorders or phobias may be at risk for developing an irrational fear of menstruation. Having such a genetic predisposition for mental illness may mean that all that’s required to develop full-blown menophobia is for them to experience some sort of traumatic event.
Such a traumatic event could be a young woman having her first period. Though such an experience is very normal, this does not mean that everyone will have a normal reaction to it. Other reasons could be a man or a woman having sex with another woman who was unknowingly on her period at the time. Though some people won’t care about such a thing, others may be greatly affected by it.
Other things that may cause someone to develop menophobia could be that they where already suffering from an anxiety disorder prior to them developing a fear of menstruation. For instance, someone suffering from generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) or obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) may potentially develop menophobia by merely concentrating their fear into one specific area (e.g. menstruation) or by obsessing about menstruation and the irrational fears associated with it.
Like with virtually all phobias, there is no cure nor is there a treatment specifically designed for menophobia. However, talk therapy, exposure therapy, and anti-anxiety medication may be able to help reduce the symptoms associated with menophobia. Talk therapy may be very beneficial for someone suffering from menophobia as it can be a way to reveal the underlying reason(s) as to why they are so fearful of menstruation to begin with.
Besides talk therapy, exposure therapy is another very advantageous form of treatment for people suffering from any given phobia. Just as the name implies, exposure therapy works by having the therapist slowly expose the patient to their fear in an attempt to desensitize them from their fear overtime. In the context of menophobia, a therapist may have the patient look at pictures of a woman on their period or have them watch educational videos of the menstrual cycle. Such exposure and education may be enough to significantly reduce their symptoms.
Anti-anxiety medication may also be able to help reduce the symptoms associated with menophobia. However, medication alone may not be enough to successfully treat this phobia in the long-term. To experience long-term benefits, you may need to go through some sort of therapy so that you can learn the appropriate cognitive skills necessary to improve your condition.
Reducing Caffeine for Menophobia
It is no secret that consuming large amounts of caffeine throughout the day can aid in making you more anxious. This makes sense when we look closely at how caffeine affects our body’s physiology. When we consume a high dose of caffeine, our heart will start to beat faster and we become more tense. Essentially, our body will begin to go into a “fight or flight” state of mind. Such a frame of mind is often a precursor for someone with menophobia to experience panic attacks.
So, consuming little to no caffeine throughout the day may be able to significantly help reduce your day to day anxiety. Although doing so will likely not make all of your anxiety go away, it will indeed help you to reduce any unnecessary suffering that you would have otherwise experienced if you were to consume a large amount of caffeine.
Beverages like coffee and tea are often high in caffeine, as well as some energy drinks. In fact, even some foods have caffeine in them as well, such as dark chocolate. Being more conscious of your daily caffeine consumption may help you to reduce some of the symptoms associated with menophobia.
Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) for Menophobia
DBT is a very effective form of treatment for people struggling with emotion regulation. It is often used to treat people suffering from borderline personality disorder. Nevertheless, it can also be very advantageous for someone suffering from anxiety disorders like menophobia too. This is due to the numerous amount of coping skills you can expect to learn in a DBT group. These groups typically last about 6 months long and can have anywhere from two people to several people depending on how many join the group.
One very effective DBT skill for helping someone with menophobia is half-smiling. This technique works by having you think about that which you fear or upsets you all while slightly raising the corners of your mouth by lightly smiling, thus the term “half-smiling.” Although, it isn’t enough to just think about your fear while half-smiling, you also have to try and refrain from entertaining those painful emotions that your specific fear may evoke.
Mindfulness meditation is also heavily used in DBT and can greatly benefit someone with menophobia as it is done in a group setting, which helps to put the patient out of their comfort zone. These group mindfulness practices may include drinking warm tea to hone in on the sense of taste and tactile senses or simply focusing on the breath.
Coping ahead is another very useful DBT skill that can help someone with menophobia. With coping ahead, you will want to find a place where you can sit down quietly without distraction. Close your eyes and then think about the many different possible scenarios where you would face your specific fear and overcome it or cope with it. Doing so will help you to be much better adept at coping with your menophobia when you are actually exposed to the specific fear associated with it in real life.
Meditation for Menophobia
There are many different forms of meditation that exists which can be very advantageous for someone suffering from menophobia. Specifically, mindfulness meditation has been shown to be quite beneficial for helping people to enter into a more equanimous state. There are many different ways with which you can implement mindfulness meditation and there are also many different meditation apps which are designed to make things as easy as possible for you.
Mindfulness has the potential to significantly help those suffering from menophobia due to how it will help one to distract themselves from their fear by refocusing their attention onto something else that does not have any sort of emotional baggage attached to it, such as by focusing on the breath for example. This is one of the most basic ways that one can meditate and be present.
For someone with menophobia in the midst of a panic attack, redirecting one’s attention to the various sensations felt when breathing can actually help to reduce the amount of mental anguish experienced during such an influx of anxiety.
To implement mindfulness meditation to help relieve one’s symptoms of menophobia, you can do so by paying close attention to the way the muscles in your abdomen and chest contract and relax with every inhale and exhale. You can spend time dwelling on how it feels as your chest expands during each inhale and how it sinks in with every exhale.
Besides focusing on your breathing, you can also focus on the sounds around you, the way your skin feels as you touch certain objects, the way foods taste, as well as the way certain aromas smell. Essentially, honing into your 5 senses can significantly help you to reduce some of the anxiety that is associated with menophobia. Also, remember that it will take a lot of practice to become an adept meditator. So, practice is key.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for Menophobia
CBT is a psycho-social intervention that aims to improve one’s mental health. It is a modality that is often used to treat people suffering from anxiety disorders such as generalized anxiety disorder and OCD. Someone with menophobia may also be able to benefit from CBT as well seeing as how it would allow them to have a much better understanding as to why they think and behave the way they do in relation to their irrational fears.
CBT can be immensely helpful for someone with menophobia given the sheer automaticity of their symptoms. For example, when someone with menophobia is exposed to their fear, they will almost always have an instantaneous subconscious reaction to their fear. Such a lack of introspection is likely a large part of why someone with this condition will suffer to the extent that they will. CBT can help you to take a step back and analyze your fears more deeply than you typically would.
Besides learning to be more fastidious with regards to understanding one’s specific fears, someone with menophobia engaging in CBT can also expect to learn various other skills aimed at helping to relieve the anxiety caused by their condition.
Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) for Menophobia
MBSR is an 8-week evidence-based program that offers secular, intensive mindfulness training to help people who are suffering from anxiety, stress, depression, and other sorts of mental anguish. MBSR may be able to significantly help someone who is suffering from menophobia as mindfulness meditation has been shown to be very beneficial for anxious people. In such a structured program, someone with menophobia can expect to learn a plethora of different skills that can help them to relieve the intense anxiety that’s associated with their specific phobia.
Talk to your doctor or therapist to see if MBSR can help you to reduce the intensity of your symptoms of menophobia, as well as where to find MBSR programs in your area.
Exposure Therapy for Menophobia
As previously mentioned, exposure therapy is one of the most common ways to treat anxiety disorders such as menophobia. It can be an efficient way to help desensitize the patient to their specific fears. Be that as it may, it is imperative that the therapist implementing it on their patient is very adept at doing so. For example, if the therapist were to slightly expose someone with menophobia to their fear, then it may not be very effective as they may need a higher amount of exposure to truly trigger any sort of worthwhile change in the patient.
The same can be said for the antithesis of this scenario. If the therapist were to excessively expose someone with menophobia to their fear, then doing so could be highly counterproductive to the point to where their menophobia may become immensely worse due to the therapy alone. So, it is paramount that the therapist implementing exposure therapy for someone with menophobia has a very strong sense of just how severe their symptoms are so that they can know the level of exposure that the patient will likely be able to handle.
Exercise for Menophobia
Exercise has been shown to be extremely beneficial for people suffering from anxiety disorders, including menophobia. Specifically, cardiovascular exercise can significantly help to relieve one’s stress. This is not to say that weight-resistance training would not benefit someone with anxiety, but rather that aerobic exercise is has been shown to be more effective at releasing those feel good chemicals in the brain, such as endorphins.
According to the American Psychology Association, exercise can help to condition the mind to better cope with stressful situations. This makes sense when we take into consideration the high amount of stress that the body is put under during strenuous exercise. So, if you yourself are sedentary, then engaging in some form of aerobic exercise may be able to significantly help reduce your symptoms of menophobia by making it much easier for you to cope with the anxiety and stress that’s associated with this condition.
There are many different aerobic modalities that you can partake in to help reduce your symptoms of menophobia, such as swimming, biking, skiing, walking, and jogging. You can also acquire the many benefits of exercise by playing sports such as tennis, soccer, basketball, and racquetball, among many other sports. Engaging in some form of exercise consistently may be able to help relieve some of the pain associated with menophobia over time.
Medication Therapy for Menophobia
These types of medications aren’t only for people who suffer from depression as they can also help people suffering from anxiety disorders as well, such as menophobia. Some common antidepressants are Paxil, Zoloft, and Lexapro, among several others. These drugs may be able to help reduce some of the symptoms of menophobia.
These types of drugs are typically taken on a daily basis. They can indeed help prevent panic attacks from occurring, but they are more so used to help reduce people’s daily anxiety. Talk to your doctor to see if taking antidepressants can help to reduce your symptoms of menophobia, as well as whether or not it is safe to do so.
These types of medications are very useful to help prevent panic attacks. Such drugs can be extremely useful for people suffering from severe menophobia due to the fact that people with phobias often experience panic attacks as well. Some common anti-anxiety medications include Xanax, Valium, and Klonopin, among many others.
These types of drugs are not typically taken on a daily basis, but they may be insofar as their menophobia is severe enough. However, this is something that you should first discuss with your doctor before you decide to do so to ensure that it is safe and effective.
Yoga for Menophobia
There are numerous different yoga poses that can substantially benefit someone who is suffering from menophobia. In part, this is due to the meditative state of mind that yoga tends to emit in those who practice it on a consistent basis. Yoga can be thought of as meditation in motion. It can help to relieve some of the anxiety associated with menophobia due to the mere fact that by engaging in yoga, your attention will be redirected to something more productive.
There are many different types of yoga that someone with menophobia can benefit from, such as hatha yoga or hot yoga, among many others. Nevertheless, regardless of the many different forms of yoga that exist, virtually all of them can help to relieve some of the stress and anxiety that is associated with menophobia.
If you have never practiced yoga before, then it may be in your best interest to take a class or watch some guided videos that can help you through each pose. Just like with meditation, the more you practice yoga, the more adept you will become at it. Besides helping you to reduce your symptoms of menophobia, you can also expect to acquire increased strength and flexibility, among other benefits.
If you think you may be suffering from some of the symptoms of this condition, then you may benefit from therapy. Feel free to reach out to your doctor or local mental health clinic to see what your available options are and to see if there is any sort of discount or promo code available to help you with the costs of treatment, as well as if your health insurance will cover treatment costs.