Tokophobia: risk factors, diagnostics and management

Puodziunaite Migle1, Rimdzeviciute Vytaute1, Augustaityte Agne1

1Lithuanian University of Health Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, Kaunas, Lithuania


Tokophobia is a pathological fear of pregnancy and childbirth. Pregnant women who suffer from tokophobia often try to avoid natural childbirth and tend to choose a riskier method of childbirth – cesarean section. Therefore, it is very important to recognize the causes of this disorder. It is believed that the development of tokophobia can be determined not only by the experience of previous pregnancy and childbirth, in childhood, but also by the socio-economic situation of a woman and her other mental disorders. In order to avoid the risks associated with tokophobia, new diagnostic methods are being developed to identify the disease. Currently the most common diagnostic tools are standardized questionnaires and scales. The most common treatment methods for tokophobia are group therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, including online cognitive behavioral therapy, and psychoeducational counseling. Research has shown that both cognitive behavioral therapy and psychoeducational counseling are effective in treating tokophobia. The treatment methods mentioned above statistically significantly reduce the number of elective cesarean sections.
Aim. To select and analyze articles found in scientific bases about risk factors, diagnosis, and treatment of tokophobia.
Methods. Literature analysis was performed using PubMed and Cochrane databases. In this study risk factors, diagnostics and treatment methods of tokophobia were analyzed.

Conclusions. 1) Risk factors for tokophobia are mother’s or other women’s negative birth experience, past sexual violence, anxiety, depression. 2) In clinical practice tokophobia is identified through interview with the patient, and standardized questionnaires and scales are commonly used for scientific purposes. 3) Currently, the most common treatment methods are group therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy and educational interventions.

Keywords: fear of pregnancy, anxiety disorders, cognitive behavioral therapy.