Androphobia is an intense fear of men that is disproportionate to the threat they might pose and that negatively affects a person’s ability to function. For example, it may affect their work or social relationships.

People with androphobia may find it difficult to be around, look at, or even think about men without immediate anxiety or panic.

It is different from the general caution or fear of men that those who experience gender-based harassment and violence report. This can be an understandable response to how common gender-based violence is worldwide.

Read on to learn more about androphobia, the fear of men.

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A phobia of men, or androphobia, is a pronounced fear of men that interferes with a person’s ability to function in daily life. It may affect their career, relationships, or social interactions.

Androphobia is distinct from a general fear or caution toward men. It is a type of specific phobia, which is the term the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition, text revision (DSM-5-TR) uses to describe intense fears of specific objects or situations.

According to the DSM-5-TR, to qualify as a phobia, the fear must be disproportionate to its actual threat, and to the social or cultural context.

It must also not be better explained by other mental health conditions, such as posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Although the word “phobia” means “fear” in Greek, clinical phobias are distinct from fears that are a reasonable response to a given situation.

Sexism and gender-based violence are global phenomena. In this context, caution around some men, or avoidance of places or situations where harassment or violence is more likely to take place, is not necessarily unreasonable.

It can also affect life choices. For example, misogyny can deter girls and women from studying technical subjects and visiting public spaces. This can be a way of avoiding real negative experiences, such as bullying.

A person with androphobia might engage in similar behaviors, but they will take extra steps that are not necessary and may spend significant amounts of time preoccupied with their fears.

That said, both androphobia and a nonclinical fear of men could affect a person’s mental health.

Learn more about the psychological effects of gender inequality.

The main symptom of specific phobias is anxiety or panic when a person comes across the subject of their fear. In androphobia, this is many or possibly all men.

Phobias almost always cause immediate symptoms. This may lead to:

  • rapid heartbeat
  • faster breathing
  • sweating
  • dizziness
  • panic attacks

Another key symptom of phobias is avoidance. A person with androphobia may go to great lengths to avoid men. For example, they may avoid:

  • looking at photos of men
  • thinking about men
  • engaging in relationships with men
  • visiting places where men might be or potentially changing schedules, habits, or careers to do so

Specific phobia symptoms in children are the same as those in adults, and include a pattern of anxiety, avoidance, and fear that is disproportionate to the actual threat.

However, young children, or children who cannot articulate their feelings, may have other symptoms. Some signs to look for include:

  • changes in behavior around men
  • crying or tantrums
  • clinginess
  • freezing

Researchers do not entirely understand what causes any type of specific phobia, but there are some theories.

One is known as classical conditioning. This theory argues that phobias arise when neutral events become paired with upsetting emotions. For example, driving is a neutral activity, but a collision could lead to a person associating driving with fear.

Another theory is modeling. This is when a person learns to fear something by watching someone else. For example, a parent with a fear of men may unintentionally teach their child to fear them, too.

If a fear of men also occurs with symptoms that make a person feel as though they are re-experiencing a past traumatic event, this may be a result of PTSD instead.

Clinicians diagnose specific phobias based on symptoms. A therapist or doctor may ask about a person’s history, their symptoms, the severity of their symptoms, and how the symptoms affect their life. They may also seek to rule out other potential causes.

Some clinicians use objective surveys to measure anxiety and phobias. It is important to provide clear, specific, honest information to get an accurate diagnosis.

Treatment for specific phobias usually involves therapy and sometimes medication.

The main type of therapy for phobias is exposure therapy. This involves very gradually exposing oneself to their fear, starting with the least anxiety-inducing steps and working upward, only when a person feels completely safe.

For example, a person might begin by looking at a photo of a man, work up to talking with a man, and graduate to being in a crowd with men. A therapist will typically teach relaxation strategies to help manage the distress a person feels at each stage of exposure.

The goal of this type of therapy is to help a person become desensitized to the subject of the phobia, so they are less reactive.

However, having encounters with subjects of many phobias, such as spiders, heights, and flying, can be risky under certain circumstances. When this is the case, treatment may help a person assess safety and risk more accurately.

Medications may help exposure therapy feel less overwhelming and enable a person to function in their daily life as they go through treatment.

A person should seek help if their fear of men undermines their happiness, opportunities, or relationships. Even if their challenges do not technically meet the diagnostic criteria for androphobia, therapy can help them develop coping skills, build a sense of safety, and learn how to better manage their anxiety.

A phobia of men, or androphobia, may be challenging to live with. It may cause a person to make significant changes to their daily life and routines to avoid having symptoms, as well as undermining their quality of life or their sense of safety, especially in public.

However, phobias are treatable. Working with an understanding therapist can help a person begin to reduce and manage their anxiety.