I was sitting in my sister’s living room last month when she told me that one of her kids wasn’t feeling well and needed to come home from school early. My mind immediately jumped to what could be wrong, as “not feeling well” is usually code for something beyond a common cold or mild fever. I thought her 7-year-old must have a stomach bug. Just hearing that caused me anxiety and discomfort. That’s when I learned about emetophobia, the fear of vomiting. Therapist Amanda Petrik-Gardner explained that emetophobia can lead to anxious coping behaviors, such as constantly seeking reassurance and avoiding situations that might increase the risk of vomiting.
I realized that my fear of vomiting is serious and debilitating, despite many people not understanding it. Emetophobia, for me, means being terrified of vomiting, whether it’s my own or someone else’s, no matter the cause. Even something as simple as nausea can send me into a tailspin of fear and all-or-nothing thinking.
I’d wanted to be a parent, but my fear of vomiting made me realize how much it would impact that dream. The idea of having children, who could inevitably become sick or vomit, was enough for me to reconsider. I found that I’m not alone in this feeling, as many others with emetophobia struggle with the idea of being a parent.
One woman, Christina, shared that her fear of vomiting began at a very young age and made her anxious about the idea of having children. However, with the support of her husband and cognitive behavioral therapy, she found a path forward that offered her some relief from her fears. She acknowledged that a supportive partner and therapy can be crucial in helping individuals with emetophobia navigate their fears, especially when pursuing parenthood.