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Arousal on its own is a physical process that says nothing about whether or not a person is asexual. There have been lab tests that show that ace people have similar arousability levels as non-aces. Trying to say that someone must have experienced sexual attraction because they’ve gotten aroused is like trying to say that someone must love the outdoors because they’ve gotten sunburned.
Sometimes arousal just happens. This is particularly prevalent during puberty, but can happen throughout life. It’s usually more noticeable when it happens to a penis than a clitoris or vagina, because a penis is typically larger and more exposed, but the same thing can happen to a clitoris or vagina. A common manifestation of spontaneous arousal is “morning wood”, that is, waking up with an erection. This can happen regardless of downstairs equipment, and is just your body performing a self test. It’s not a sign of a forgotten sex dream or secret sexual desires.
Sometimes arousal is the result of pressure or contact with the genitals. The genitals are designed to react to stimulation. This contact can be unintentional, for instance, if you’re wearing tight clothes or sitting a certain way. This contact can also be intentional, for instance, if you touch or rub them or press them against something. Either way, your genitals may interpret this as a sign that you’re preparing to use them, so they’ll get ready by becoming aroused. This is strictly physical, and doesn’t require any kind of sexual thoughts.
Sometimes arousal is a response to sexual thoughts. As with physical contact, your genitals may interpret these thoughts as an indication that you’d like to use them for something. As we’ll get to in another post, having sexual thoughts doesn’t disqualify you from being asexual, so your body’s physical response to those thoughts doesn’t disqualify you, either.
And sometimes, yes, arousal is a response to sexual attraction. But that’s not the only reason.
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I am really thankful for this article. I had just found out about asexuality and had gotten really comfortable with the label. But then I realized that my body still had a physical reaction of pleasure to reading about sexual situations.
Now I feel validated again :)
I am really thankful for this web site. I found out I was ace 15 years ago this month. I came out to my parents & my brother immediately after I read a magazine article about asexuality. When I told my brother, I was staring awkwardly at a wreath on the door, avoiding eye contact. I just don’t remember the exact date. I wish I would have remembered that.
I’m writing this mostly to rant, I’m currently looking for every reason in the world to believe I’m not asexual, that it’s just a moment in my life or something.. i feel like I’m letting people down, people i deeply care about. It’s a little comforting to know there’s nothing wrong with me, I don’t when I’ll actually come out and talk about it…