Koro syndrome is a rare psychological disorder that causes people to have an irrational fear that their genitals are shrinking or retracting into their body. This fear can lead to panic attacks, anxiety, and sometimes physical injury from trying to prevent the retraction. Koro syndrome is also known as genital retraction syndrome or shrinking penis.
Koro syndrome is considered a culture-bound syndrome, meaning that it is influenced by the beliefs and values of a specific cultural group. It is most common in Southeast Asia and China (especially in rural areas where education is limited) where it is sometimes associated with the fear of death, spirit possession, or loss of sexual power. Koro syndrome can also occur in other parts of the world, such as Africa, Europe, and the U.S., where it may have different causes and meanings.
The symptoms of koro syndrome usually include a tingling sensation in the genitals, followed by a sudden and intense fear that they are disappearing. The person may also experience other physical or psychological symptoms, such as changes in penis shape or muscle tone, nipple retraction in women, guilt, shame, or low self-esteem. Episodes can last from a few minutes to several hours, depending on the severity of the fear and the availability of treatment.
The treatment for koro syndrome depends on the cultural context and the individual case. In some cultures, traditional remedies such as herbs, potions, exorcisms or rituals may be used to restore the normal size and function of the genitals. In other cultures, psychological counseling, medication or education may be more effective. The goal of treatment is to reduce the anxiety and distress caused by koro syndrome and to address any underlying issues that may trigger it.