Asexuality

Sex. It’s such a driving focus in our society and even our species that it can be hard to imagine anyone could be entirely satisfied without it.

Although uncommon, asexuality is experienced by roughly one percent of the population according to a Canadian study published in 2004.

An asexual is a person who does not experience sexual attraction. This is different from celibacy or abstinence as it is not a choice, but experienced as sexual identity like heterosexuality or homosexuality are for others.

Although asexual individuals do not experience sexual attraction, they do have the same emotional needs as other people. As in any group, there is considerable diversity among asexual individuals and the way they experience relationships. Some are happy on their own and others desire intimate relationships or even marriage.

Asexuality is still often treated as though it is a pathology. It is not common and not fully understood, therefore people and even medical professionals tend to want to find a way to ‘cure’ it. For many who identify as asexual, this desire by others to fix them is not welcome.

Some asexual advocates would like to see changes to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual to ensure asexuality is not mistaken as a mental illness or classified incorrectly as ‘hypoactive sexual desire disorder’.

At the same time, lack of sexual desire can exist as a symptom of other underlying conditions and may be treatable in those instances. How do we know if someone’s lack of sexual interest is a problem or simply part of who the person is?

If you have experienced a decrease or disappearance in sexual desire that once existed and this is causing you distress, you are probably not asexual. Decreased sex drive can occur in many health conditions or as a side effect of some medications. Your doctor can help you determine the cause for your decrease in desire and a solution may be possible.

Most people who are asexual have always felt this way and are not distressed by it. In those instances, no treatment is necessary and there is no reason to take any medical action.

If you feel you may be asexual and would like some help coming to terms with this aspect of your identity, counselling may help. The Asexual Visibility and Education Network (AVEN) has a good online resource and community at www.asexuality.org.

 

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