Sexual repression is a state in which a person is prevented from expressing their own sexuality. Sexual repression is often linked with feelings of guilt or shame being associated with sexual impulses. Defining characteristics and practices associated with sexual repression vary between societies and different historical periods. The behaviours and attitudes constituting sexual repression differ across cultures, religious communities and moral systems. Sexual repression can largely be categorised as physical, mental or an amalgam of both.
Sexual repression is enforced through legislation in certain countries, many of which are located in the Middle East and North Africa region, and South Asia. Common practices associated with sexual repression include child marriage, female genital mutilation and male circumcision. Individuals believed to have engaged in behaviours contradicting social, religious or cultural expectations of sexual repression, such as same-sex sexual activity, may be punished through honor killings, persecution or the death penalty.
Sexual repression can also be developed unconsciously from one's childhood or from undesirable sexual experiences.