Asexual refers to the absence of sexual activity or a low level of sexual response. Sexual union of male and female germ cells (such as the sperm and ova in humans) is the means of reproduction that is standard among mammalian and many non-mammalian species. However, many organisms reproduce through asexual means, such as budding, spore formation, or fission. Organisms that produce through these means are sexless.

Asexuality can also refer to a lack of interest or involvement in sex in sexual species. The priesthood in a number of religions, for example, requires abstinence or even monasticism among its members. While individuals who participate in religious abstinence may have normal sexual interest, they are required to take a vow of abstinence.

Over time, lack of involvement in sexual activity may lead to a considerable drop in sexual interest. Vows of abstinence may also be taken outside of the arena of organized religion, although these are usually situational and time limited.

Sexual Dysfunction May Cause Asexual Behavior

Disinterest in sex also may be due to a sexual dysfunction; that is, a psychological or organic condition that blocks normal sexual behaviors and responses. Specifically, in the case of complete disinterest in sex, the condition may be diagnosed as sexual desire disorder.

In sexual desire disorder the individual has a persistent absence of sexual fantasies or desire for engaging in sex. Further, the individual exhibits an intense aversion to either heterosexual or homosexual genital sexual contact.

Additionally, persistent failure in sexual response may lead to the avoidance of sex or sexual situations. This can occur at any point in life but tends to occur more frequently among the elderly. These conditions can have an emotional origin, of varying severities, or they may have an organic cause. Often they are treatable through sex therapy and/or biomedical intervention.

Intensive desire disorders, however, may reflect complicated psychological problems that are difficult to treat. In addition, some individuals may be biologically incapable of sexual interest or involvement in sexual activity and, although members of a sexual species, are themselves asexual. This, however, is a rare condition and most forms of sexual dysfunction respond to therapeutic intervention.

Copyright 2002 Sinclair Intimacy Institute