What To Know About The Fear Of Women

Medically reviewed by Paige Henry, LMSW, J.D.
Updated June 10, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team
Content Warning: Please be advised, the below article might mention trauma-related topics that could be triggering to the reader. Please see our Get Help Now page for more immediate resources.

Those who have a fear of women may be unaware of how this fear impacts daily life. Learning more about this specific phobia of women can be the first step to understanding how to move forward and find healing. You're not alone, and there are a few ways to better understand the symptoms of gynophobia and all it encompasses. 

Learn to manage the fears that impact your daily life

What is gynophobia? 

The fear or loathing of women, also called gynophobia, is a social phobia and mental health condition. Men are more likely than women to experience gynophobia. Individuals who experience this phobia may harbor ill feelings towards women in their families, including mothers, sisters, aunts, and cousins. They may also avoid women in daily life and experience fear around women. 

Medical specialists may attribute gynophobia to traumatic experiences that an individual has gone through involving women. This experience could include an abusive or neglectful mother, undergoing emotional, physical, or sexual abuse from a woman, or chronic rejection from women. Men with this condition may view women as untrustworthy or deceitful.

Adults and children can develop gynophobia. If a child's fear and discontent are not addressed, they may carry over into adulthood. While negative experiences increase one's likelihood of developing gynophobia, other factors increase the probability of a person developing a fear of women. High emotional sensitivity and proneness to negativity make one more susceptible to disliking or dreading women.

Individuals who have relatives with anxiety disorders and social and specific phobias may be more likely to experience gynophobia. Observing, hearing, or reading about adverse encounters with women may also cause apprehension. Individuals as young as ten can develop gynophobia. Although mental health specialists remain uncertain about the exact cause of this phobia, negative experiences with women remain the most likely factor, followed by one's heredity, environment, and changes in the brain.

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Is gynophobia misogyny? 

In many circumstances, gynophobia and misogyny are used interchangeably. Misogyny is defined as the hatred of or contempt for women and girls. Some people believe gynophobia cannot be classified as a medical phobia because it can breed hatred, contempt, and prejudice against women, which is misogyny. 

Gynophobia's classification as an anxiety disorder explains why fear is caused by encountering women. Unlike misogynists, someone with a clinical fear of women may experience cold sweats, nausea, and an increased heart rate when they encounter women. In addition, gynophobic individuals may do everything they can to abstain from contact with women, including avoiding physical and verbal interactions. When people with gynophobia encounter women, they may want to remove themselves from the situation, experiencing fear. 

When gynophobia isn't misogyny 

Unlike gynophobia, misogyny is within one's control. Individuals who loathe women and harbor prejudices against them exert this form of negative energy upon interacting with them. Furthermore, misogyny is not a clinical illness. People who display misogyny are not pleased with the physical symptoms accompanying a genuine phobia of women. They may not avoid women out of fear but contempt or unkind thoughts. While gynophobia is a clinical phobia of all women, misogyny often targets specific categories of women.


Treatment options for gynophobia

The fear of women may not appear as a severe challenge to others. However, this phobia may adversely impact an individual's career, personal and professional relationships, and ability to function in everyday life. People who experience this condition are often recommended to seek medical treatment if gynophobia negatively impacts work, schooling, or other interactions. 

A doctor may advise individuals with gynophobia to engage in therapy, take medication, or both. Below are a few treatment options that people with a specific phobia, like gynophobia, may respond well to. 

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) 

Individuals living with gynophobia may be recommended to engage in cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). This form of treatment adopts a psychological approach to understanding and ultimately combatting the fear of women.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy encourages gynophobic persons to view their phobias in a different light, learn how to master and control the associated symptoms of the disorder, and handle emotional repercussions. After this form of treatment has run its course, the individual may experience confidence, the ability to control their thoughts, and relief.

Exposure and response prevention (ERP)

A gynophobic individual may also benefit from exposure therapy, in which they are gradually exposed to their fears associated with women. By slowly being introduced to these fears, an individual works on coping with the feelings, sensations, and thoughts brought on by the exposure. At the end of treatment, exposures may involve close interactions with women. Exposure therapy has been proven to be one of the most effective treatments for specific phobias like gynophobia. 


In some circumstances, a doctor may decide that medication could combat a phobia of women. Medication may ease the gynophobic offshoots of panic attacks and anxiety. However, medication is not a cure for phobias. It is instead often used at the beginning of treatment to reduce symptom severity enough for the individual to work on their symptoms in therapy or at home through lifestyle changes. 

Although several forms of treatment are employed to combat gynophobia, exposure therapy and cognitive-behavioral therapy focus on the root of gynophobia. Medication focuses on tackling the symptoms of the phobia, not the underlying cause. Consult your doctor about any potential medication options beforehand to avoid adverse side effects. In addition, do not start, change, or stop any medication without speaking to your doctor. 

Ways to cope with gynophobia at home 

Focusing your energy on overcoming your phobia may be a productive way to cope with gynophobia and reduce symptoms, alongside treatment with a professional. Below are a few ways to get started. 

Learn to understand your fear

Phobias don't often arise from nowhere. For some, phobias occur due to a traumatic experience that was ignored or ingrained into the psyche, often at a young age. One way to combat your phobia is to understand where your fear is coming from. Think about when you first experienced fear of women and how it changed over time. Consider what actions or beliefs you have that have contributed to the worsening of this fear. 

Know the extent of your fear

Some people with phobias may have a moderate struggle dealing with their fears. In contrast, others may have more severe reactions that can completely debilitate them in the presence of their feared situation. Ask yourself where this reaction lies. Can you be in the same room as women, or does the mere thought of being around a woman paralyze you? How extensive is your fear, and what can you do to decrease that?

Try testing the waters

Exposing yourself to your fear too fast or too soon may harm the recovery process. It is not recommended that you try to face your fears simultaneously. However, consider if you can face your fears one step at a time. 

When you see that you are more than capable of being around women without being harmed, you may be able to expose yourself to more situations that scare you. As avoiding women may not be possible, exposure is often the most effective treatment for gynophobia, and you can do this process professionally by working with a professional mental health worker. 

Learn to manage the fears that impact your daily life

Seek support from a therapist 

Treating gynophobia is a process. It may not happen overnight, although having a strong support system can make recovery easier and smoother. Being able to ask for help and support is not a sign of weakness but strength. Even if you face barriers to in-person therapy, online platforms like BetterHelp can allow you to seek support from home.

Recent research points to online therapy platforms as valuable resources for working through complicated emotions related to phobias. For example, in one study published in Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, researchers examined the effects of online cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) on those with a fear of public speaking. The therapy produced positive results in participants, with gains sustained at a one-year follow-up. Cognitive-behavioral therapy can help clients understand and replace maladaptive thoughts underlying unwanted feelings and behaviors, such as symptoms related to gynophobia. 

With an online therapy platform, you can participate in counseling from the comfort of your home via videoconferencing, messaging, voice calls, or live chat. In addition, you may be able to sign up and work with a male therapist while you combat your fear. Some platforms may allow you to attend therapy groups or webinars to learn more about mental health and connect with others. You're not alone, and many options are available to support you. 


While phobias may seem unconquerable, these anxiety disorders are treatable with support. You can learn more about your fear of women and what you can do to conquer it using the guide above and reaching out to a therapist. Consider talking to a mental health professional online or in your area to get started.
It is possible to overcome phobias
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