What if you never had a sexual spark or an interest in having sex with another person? I don’t mean a period of chosen celibacy after giving birth, or when you just need a break from dating and relationships. I’m referring to people who have identified their whole lives as “asexual.”
The Asexual Visibility and Education Network (AVEN) is an organization dedicated to educating and supporting asexuality as a sexual orientation, in the same way that heterosexuality and homosexuality are perceived. Their website explains that asexual people form relationships like sexual people, with intimacy, closeness, attraction, and sharing. The difference is that there is no need or desire to engage in partnered sexual activity. People who are asexual do not perceive this as problematic; it’s just what feels right to them.
You might assume that an asexual person has experienced sexual trauma, has a mental or emotional block, or is experiencing a physiological sexual dysfunction. However, no research to date has supported these presuppositions, and a recent study specifically challenges the physiological dysfunction hypothesis. In it, researchers showed sexual stimuli to a variety of women, then measured blood flow to their genitals, and recorded how they felt about being aroused. Women who identified as asexual were similar to the other women in sexual arousal, except they did not perceive their sexual arousal in a particularly positive way or as something to share with another person.
What does this all mean? The jury is still out on that since this topic has only recently been the subject of research. However, regarding whether it’s “legit,” my guess is that you can’t miss something you’ve never had or experienced, so to an asexual, this is just the “normal” way of being.
(Article was originally posted as part of Pacific San Diego Magazine's Blogger Series.)
~Dr. Jenn Gunsaullus, San Diego, CA -- Sex Therapist, Marriage Counselor, Sexologist, College Sexual Health Speaker