4 Signs It’s Sexual Aversion Disorder, Not Asexuality

Sexuality, the capacity for sexual feelings, is a complex aspect of our experience, but it becomes even more complex when you realize that you don’t feel it at all. For some people, this lack of sexual attraction can indicate asexuality, a valid sexual orientation. Still, sometimes feeling asexual can be just the surface level of some deeper emotions that prevent you from feeling comfortable with sex. These two can often be tough to tell apart. To help you navigate this, here are some signs it’s a sexual disorder, not asexuality.

Racing Heart

When there’s a hot sexual scene in the middle of your favorite TV show, or if you get a DM from someone trying to make a move on you, how do you react? Do you simply think something like “nah, not interested”, or do you get all anxious or tense, and just want to get out of that situation? According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, individuals with sexual aversion disorder feel extreme aversion and persistent avoidance of sexual contact. They are overwhelmed with fear and anxiety if they even think about having any kind of sexual interaction. But those who are asexual aren’t usually so bothered with sexual themes. They might avoid them simply because they’re not interested, but not because they’re repulsed by them. 

I Won’t Look!…

That lack of interest might be another way to distinguish the two. In a 2021 study, asexual individuals and those with a sexual aversion disorder were shown sexual and non-sexual images. The researchers wanted to know if any of these groups would pay greater attention to the sexual ones. As expected, the results showed that asexual participants paid less attention to images depicting sexuality. But those with sexual dysfunction did pay attention, and they initially focused on the sexual image instead of the non-sexual one. This suggests that those with sexual disorders may still be interested in sex-related things, but not as intensely as they did before the onset of their disorder.. So if you do feel some interest and some sexual attraction, but feel held back to act on it, it may be worth exploring these feelings further.

Feeling Bothered

The anxiety and the lack of interest in sex could make a person feel a bit down about themselves. Do you feel that way? It could be a sign there’s something more than asexuality. A 2015 study compared groups of asexuals and those with a sexual desire disorder. Study findings showed that those with the disorder had significantly greater psychological distress and even higher levels of depression than asexuals did! This might mean that those who suffer from some kind of sexual dysfunction feel bad about it and wish they could change. They might feel like their lack of sexual desire makes their lives emptier or their relationships harder to navigate. And while asexuals still may have some difficulties with romantic partners and societal expectations, generally they don’t mind their orientation and are able to accept themselves just the way they are!

The Beginnings

The same 2015 study found another key difference between the two groups. Asexuals described their experience as “a more lifelong pattern of no sexual desire or attraction”. This was different from the group with sexual desire disorder – they remember having sexual feelings and experimenting with sex in their younger days. So as an asexual, it’s possible that you’ve always had a different experience with attraction than those around you. You may have felt confused by your peers’ experiences of developing crushes and dating, but later realized that your lack of sexual desire or attraction was due to your asexual orientation. But if you have experienced sexual attraction in the past, but now feel averse or uncomfortable around sex, it may be helpful to reflect on whether there was a specific experience or event that triggered this change.  Could something have happened that was difficult for you to handle, and made you feel this way? If that’s the case, talking to a mental health professional can provide a supportive and non-judgmental space to explore these feelings further.

So now that you’ve heard the differences, do you think your lack of sexual attraction might actually be something deeper? Or do you still think it’s just the way you roll? Hopefully this article helped you gain some more insight into your own sexuality, as well as sexuality in general. If you do question your sexual orientation and wonder if it’s something else, we encourage you to seek help from a sex therapist or any kind of a professional. And if you’re still not really comfortable talking about it, simply getting to know about yourself more could be a great first step. In the meantime, please remember that your body is amazing, and regardless of your level of desire, you are deserving of love and respect.

If this article has helped or you think it could be helpful to others, please share it! And remember: you matter!


Bradshaw, J., Brown, N., Kingstone, A., & Brotto, L. (2021). Asexuality vs. sexual interest/arousal disorder: Examining group differences in initial attention to sexual stimuli. PLoS ONE, 16(12). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0261434

Brotto, L. A., Yule, M. A., & Gorzalka, B. B. (2015). Asexuality: An extreme variant of sexual desire disorder? – PubMed. The Journal of Sexual Medicine, 12(3). https://doi.org/10.1111/jsm.12806

ChoosingTherapy.com. (2022, February 17). What is sexual aversion disorder? Choosing Therapy. https://www.choosingtherapy.com/sexual-aversion-disorder/

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