Tokophobia: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment

Tokophobia: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment

February 09 2023 TalktoAngel 0 comments 121 Views

Tokophobia is the fear of getting pregnant and delivering a baby. Women who suffer from this phobia frequently refrain from getting pregnant or giving birth because of their pathological fear of it.

According to Dr (Prof) R K SuriTop Clinical Psychologist“Despite wanting children, this fear may lead women to put off getting pregnant or decide against giving birth normally in favor of a Caesarean surgery”. Tokophobia can affect both women who have never given birth to a child and women who have previously gone through traumatic birth experiences. Women frequently worry about the common discomfort of labour as well as the potential for complications. These are all common worries that practically every pregnant woman has to some extent.

Women frequently worry about the common discomfort of labour as well as the potential for complications. These are all common worries that practically every pregnant woman has to some extent.

Utilizing medical assistance, education, social support, and self-help techniques are frequently used to address the common fears of bringing a child into the world. But occasionally, this dread can develop into a pathological fear that prevents women from getting pregnant or giving birth at all.

Signs and Symptoms of Tokophobia

A specific phobia, or anxiety disorder in which people have an excessively illogical fear of a particular circumstance or object, includes tokophobia.

Sleep issues, panic episodes, nightmares, and avoidance behaviors are signs of tokophobia.

Additional signs can include:

  • Concern and sadness
  • Extreme phobia of stillbirth, birth abnormalities, or maternal death
  • Apprehension about the prospect of being pregnant and giving birth
  • Insisting on having a Caesarean section to deliver them

Women occasionally refrain from having any sexual relations out of concern for getting pregnant. Those who do get pregnant might be more likely to want an elective c-section, experience more trauma during childbirth, and even struggle to form a strong attachment with their child.

Men may also have tokophobia. Researchers have discovered that men with tokophobia frequently have serious anxiety for their partner's and child's welfare.

This anxiety frequently revolves around worries about childbirth, medical care, decision-making, finances, and parental capacity.

What causes tokophobia?

Researchers have proposed various explanations to account for the origins of tokophobia. Some of these include learning about other women's traumatic accounts of childbirth, being concerned about ineffective pain treatment, and having psychiatric problems like anxiety and depression already. Tokophobia comes in two different forms:

Primary tokophobia frequently develops in women who have never given birth. It may begin in adolescence, but it can also develop after a woman gives a child. Girls and women who have been the victims of rape or sexual assault may also display it. Exams performed by doctors throughout pregnancy and labor can also bring on memories of the first shock.

Secondary tokophobia frequently develops in women who have previously given birth or who have gone through pregnancy. It frequently happens after challenging labor and delivery. Women who gave birth naturally and without stress, as well as those who experienced miscarriages, stillbirths, pregnancy terminations, or unsuccessful reproductive procedures, can also experience it. Tokophobia may arise as a result of various factors, such as:

  • Fear for the infant's survival and/or mistrust of medical professionals
  • Fear of pregnancy-related problems, including hypertension and death
  • Aversion to pain
  • Fear of privacy, loss of control, and the unknown
  • Having a background of sadness, anxiety, or sexual abuse as a youngster
  • Hearing from friends or on social media about terrible birth experiences
  • Hormone changes that make anxiety management more difficult
  • Psychological and social variables, such as early pregnancy, poverty, or a lack of social support
  • Uncertainty regarding the birth and labor processes

Treatment for Tokophobia

To ensure the health of the mother and child, it is crucial that tokophobia women obtain treatment. Getting assistance from the woman's obstetrician in collaboration with a psychologist or psychiatrist etc.

Such assistance can increase women's confidence in their own abilities and even lower the rate of elective c-sections.

According to studies, providing support to expectant mothers who have a severe dread of getting pregnant and giving birth can help to lessen symptoms.

Effective support can be given in a group environment or one-on-one. This type of support typically comes from family members or friends that women already know, but it can also come from obstetricians, midwives, psychologists, or counsellors.

It has also been demonstrated that a happy birth experience might lessen labour anxiety. According to one study, women who felt in charge of their bodies and knew how labour was going were more likely to exhibit a decrease or eradication of symptoms.

Addressing some of the probable fundamental causes of the issue, such as pre-existing depression or anxiety issues, can be helped by a mental health specialist.

To help women feel as though their concerns about the birth process are appropriately addressed, maternal healthcare providers can provide reassurance, information, and proper medical treatment.


It's crucial to locate social support networks. Many people get solace in simply knowing that there are those who can assist them. According to one study, women who felt in charge of their bodies and understood how labor was progressing were more likely to experience a reduction or eradication of their dread symptoms.

Many women look to other women who have already had children for advice and support; these women are frequently moms, sisters, family members, and acquaintances. According to research, assisting women with a severe fear of giving birth reduces cesarean rates by 50%.


Psychotherapy and cognitive behaviour therapy can both be successful in treating tokophobia. Due to its short duration and emphasis on specific problems, CBT may be a useful option. One investigation examined the efficiency of web-based cognitive behavioural therapy.

One study compared the efficacy of cognitive behavioural therapy delivered online vs traditional care. Even while the researchers found that both approaches decreased worry, those who had CBT showed a greater decline in symptoms one year after delivery.

The researchers hypothesized that the low practicality and acceptance of this treatment technique was reflected by the fact that few women finished the CBT therapy modules.


Medications can also be used to treat underlying anxiety, depression, or other mental problems, either by themselves or in combination with other forms of therapy. Tokophobia is treated with a comprehensive approach that often includes obstetric and psychological care.

Consult a mental health expert

Seek consultation by the best Online PsychiatristBest Psychologist in India, and Online Counsellor, to overcome fears that are negatively affecting your life.

Contributions: Dr(Prof) R K Suri, Clinical Psychologist & Marriage Counsellor & Ms. Varshini Nayyar, Counselling Psychologist


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