An Asexual’s Guide To … Arousal

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What’s this “Arousal” thing I’ve heard of?

Sexual arousal, the type of arousal I’m talking about here, is the body preparing itself for sexual activity of some kind.  It doesn’t mean that you have to do anything, and it doesn’t mean you want to do anything.  It’s just your body saying “Hey, there might be sex about to happen.  I should probably get ready for that, just in case.”  Of course, in some cases, your body isn’t grounded in reality and will end up getting aroused all by itself, for no reason at all.

Arousal is also called being “turned on” because it is, in a way, like your genitals (and other areas, like the nipples) have been turned on or activated.  Most of the time, your genitals are in a kind of sleep mode, where they don’t really feel any different or respond to touch more than any other part of your body.  For instance, most people with a penis don’t have to fight off an orgasm every time they step up to a urinal.  Arousal is the state where these body parts become more sensitive and more receptive to touch and other stimulation.

Can an asexual get aroused?

For the most part, yes.  Arousal is a physical response, and it does not require sexual attraction.  Aces may be less likely to become aroused in certain situations (for instance, when someone who’s “hot” walks by), but if an asexual cannot get aroused at all, then there is likely something other than asexuality at work and consulting a doctor might be in order.

But doesn’t arousal mean someone isn’t asexual?

Of course not!  Arousal in no way contradicts, counteracts, or invalidates asexuality.  One of the triggers of sexual arousal is sexual attraction, but there are countless other triggers that have nothing to do with attraction of any kind.  Arousal does not mean that someone is thinking about sex, wants sex, or has experienced sexual attraction.  It just means that certain body parts are exhibiting their typical functionality.

It’s perfectly fine for an asexual to become aroused.

It’s perfectly fine for an asexual to want to become aroused.

It’s perfectly fine for an asexual to enjoy being aroused.

It’s perfectly fine for an asexual to take steps to become aroused.

It’s perfectly fine for an asexual to become aroused by someone else.

It’s perfectly fine for an asexual to not want to become aroused.

It’s perfectly fine for an asexual to be curious about arousal.

It’s perfectly fine for an asexual to not care about arousal.

We’re not going to take away your Ace Club Membership Card if you’re ever aroused, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise (particularly if that someone is not asexual themselves).

How can I tell if I’m aroused?

If you’re wet and/or hard downstairs, it’s a good bet you’re aroused.

I’m not sure I understand.  Can you be a bit more specific about what happens when I’m aroused?

Blood flows to the genitals.  This “fills up” or “inflates” certain areas.  Your genitals may feel “full” or “warm” or “heavy”.

For a female body, this means your labia will enlarge, the walls of your vagina will swell, and your clitoris will become erect, which means that it’ll get bigger and harder, and may come out of hiding from under its hood.  Your nipples may also get hard.

For a male body, this means that your penis will become erect, which means that it’ll get bigger and harder and stand up on its own.  This is often the most noticeable sign of arousal in a male body, which is why many people refer to arousal as “getting hard”. If you have a foreskin, the head of the penis may emerge from the foreskin.  Your nipples may also get hard.

Your genitals will likely be more sensitive and receptive to touch.  This doesn’t necessarily mean that it suddenly feels good if something touches them (although it can), but it does mean that you’re more likely to notice if something touches them.  In some cases, you might feel a muscle twitch in response to a touch.  In many cases, it will start to feel good after a while if you do touch your genitals at this point.  That’s called masturbation, and will be covered in a different post.

Your genitals may change color.  They’re probably not going to turn bright green or radioactive fuchsia or anything like that, but they may get darker or turn redder or purple.  They may not change color uniformly, either.  The head of the clitoris or the penis may change while nothing else does.

Your genitals may become lubricated.  This lubrication is a somewhat thick, slippery, clear fluid.  It is not urine.  There’s usually not a large amount of this fluid, although the more you’re aroused or the longer you’re aroused, the more of it there will typically be.  If you pinch some of it between your fingers, then pull your fingers apart, the fluid may form a string between your fingers.

For a male body, there may be a small amount of lubricating fluid that flows out of the tip of the penis.  This is called pre-ejaculate fluid, also known as precum.  It won’t come out in a stream, like urine, or a spurt, like semen.  Instead, a few drops at a time will flow from the urethra.  This fluid is often not produced right away after becoming aroused.  It is not the same as semen and does not typically contain sperm.  In some cases, you may even produce this fluid without an erection, if you have been at a low level of arousal for a while.  It doesn’t always happen, and doesn’t happen for everyone, so don’t worry if you don’t have any.

For a female body, the walls of the vagina may become lubricated.   This is often the most noticeable sign of arousal in a female body, which is why many people refer to arousal as “getting wet”.  As the vagina becomes lubricated, the fluid may spread to the rest of the vulva area.

Your pulse and rate of breathing may increase.

You may get a “sex flush”, which looks a bit like you’re blushing, but it’s primarily on your chest.  Don’t worry if you don’t have this happen, though.  Many people do not.

None of these changes are permanent.  As the arousal subsides, all of these changes will go away, whether or not you’ve had an orgasm.

I may get “hard”?  Like concrete?

It’s not actually like that at all.  Your genitals won’t feel like they’re solid all of a sudden.  It actually feels more firm, kinda like a muscle.  Harder than usual, yes, but still with some give to it.

Since it’s called being “turned on”, does that mean I’ll get aroused instantly?

Although it’s called being “turned on”, it’s less like turning on a light and more like turning on an oven.  It may take a while for everything to warm up.  You may not always be aware of the early stages of arousal, though.

How long does arousal last?

Anywhere from a few seconds to several hours.  It all depends on what you do.  If you ignore the arousal and stop any kind of stimulation (including of the mental kind) that might be contributing to the arousal, it’ll often dissipate within a minute or so.  On the other hand, if you encourage the arousal in some way, then it can hang around for pretty much as long as you want it to.

Is arousal always the same?

No.  All of the effects are variable.  One time, you may end up very wet, but the next time, there might be hardly anything.  One time, you might become extremely sensitive to even the lightest touch, but the next time, you might be practically numb.  One time you might have a large and very stiff erection, but the next time, you might only get partially hard.  One time, you may stay aroused for half an hour, but the next time, you might only be aroused for a minute.

Does arousal feel good?

Maybe.  Often, arousal in itself is vaguely pleasant, but doesn’t really feel good.  What you do with the arousal can feel very good, though.  Sometimes, when you’re aroused, any contact with your genitals will send a shudder of pleasure through your body.  Other times, it doesn’t feel much different down there than it normally does.  Once you’re aroused, continued stimulation of your genitals may lead to orgasm, which usually feels really good.  Both orgasms and self-stimulation of your genitals (called masturbation) will be covered in other posts.

What if I don’t want to be aroused?

Wait a while.  It’ll usually fade away if you don’t do anything to keep it around.  Thing is, it has a habit of being just noticeable enough that it’ll keep you thinking about it, and thinking about it will keep you aroused.  So do something that’ll get you distracted, if possible.  Also, try shifting how you’re sitting and adjust your pants.  That may sound silly, but pressure on the parts down below (from sitting in a certain way or from clothing pressed against them) can actually trigger arousal.

Having an orgasm, through masturbation or other means, will also often take care of arousal, but that’s probably not the answer you were looking for…

How can I get aroused if I want to be?

First, relax.  Don’t push it.  Forcing yourself to become aroused and failing leads to stress, and stress is one of the most common arousal killers.  Don’t go into it thinking “This will never work”, because if you’re thinking that, there’s a good chance it won’t work.

There are many ways to try to become aroused.  This is only a partial list, there are countless others not listed here.

  • Think about becoming aroused.  Arousal is sometimes a self-fulfilling idea.
  • Touch yourself or have someone you’re comfortable with touch you.  Touching or rubbing your genitals, your inner thighs, or your breasts and nipples can often lead to arousal.  Sometimes even a shoulder massage might be enough to turn you on.
    • For males, touching, rubbing, squeezing or pulling on the shaft of your penis may work.  The head of the penis may be too sensitive to touch initially.  You may try sliding the skin of the shaft up and down gently.  Touching or rubbing your testicles or pressing against your perineum may also help.
    • For females, touching or rubbing your vulva may work.  Cupping your hand around the front of your vulva, and moving your hand back and forth while pressing against the vulva (gently at first) may also help.  Rubbing the outside of the clitoral hood or sliding the hood gently might get you aroused, although the clitoris itself may be too sensitive to touch.  Note that vaginal penetration may not be all that effective.
  • Apply pressure to your genitals.  Sit or lie in such a way that something presses against your genitals, in particular, your clitoris or penis.  A bunched up towel or blanket, balled up socks, or a folded pillow will often provide the right amount of pressure.
  • Think about sex.  Even though you’re asexual, thinking about sexual situations (Even if you’re not fantasizing about taking part) can get you aroused.  This does not mean that you’re not asexual.
  • Watch porn, watch a steamy scene in a movie, or read an erotic story.  Even if you’re asexual, erotica can sometimes turn you on.  This does not mean that you’re not asexual.
  • Use a sex toy.  Vibrators will generally work on a clitoris or a penis, and a cock ring will generally work on a penis.
  • Repeatedly clench and release your muscles downstairs, the same ones you’d use to stop peeing.  (Those are called your PC muscles and these clench-and-release exercises are called “Kegels”.)  Try clenching those muscles tight for as long as you can hold them.
  • Drive on a bumpy road or sit on a washing machine.  The strong vibrations may work to turn you on.
  • Press your thighs together repeatedly.  This has the effect of moving skin around and applying pressure to your genitals, without direct contact.
  • Read a list of tips for how to become aroused.  If you became aroused while reading the above, there’s nothing wrong with that.

Is it harder for an asexual to get aroused?

It’s probably harder for an asexual person to become aroused while thinking about sex.  It’s probably not any harder to become aroused by touching themselves or through most of the other methods I mentioned above.

Arousal is largely a physical process, and asexuality does not have a physical component.  As such, asexuality by itself does not prevent the physical process from taking place.

Of course, although arousal is a physical process, it can often be influenced by your state of mind.  That’s why thinking about sex can lead to arousal and being stressed out can prevent arousal.  So, if you feel that asexuals can’t get aroused or shouldn’t get aroused, or that being aroused means you’re not asexual, it’s certainly possible that those thoughts might be inhibiting arousal.

Can an asexual get aroused by another person?

Yep. Being asexual means that you don’t experience sexual attraction, but there are plenty of ways that someone else can get you aroused that don’t require attraction.  Getting aroused by someone else does not mean that you’re attracted to them, it just means that your body parts are doing what millions of years of evolution have resulted in them being built to do.

Can an asexual get aroused by porn or erotic stories?

Yep. It has been well established that people of any sexual orientation can be aroused by porn or erotic stories, even if the content runs counter to their sexual orientation.  Straight women can get turned on by lesbian porn, straight men can get turned on by the sight of a penis, lesbians sometimes enjoy watching gay male porn, and gay men sometimes enjoy watching a woman touch herself.  It does not mean that everyone is secretly bisexual, it just means that, for many people, one of the triggers of arousal is the sight of sex, regardless of the specific anatomy involved.  This is also true for many asexuals.

I can’t seem to get aroused.  Why not?  What can I do about it?

In many cases, an inability to become aroused is something you might want to discuss with your doctor, especially if you view it as a problem.  This is true, even if you have no interest in having sex with someone else.  There may be a treatable physical or psychological reason for your lack of arousal.  The following is a list of some specific reasons for why you might not be able to get aroused, but it’s by no means the only possible reasons.

  • Stressing about not being able to be aroused is often one of the biggest reasons someone can’t get aroused.  If you’ve convinced yourself that you can’t get aroused, then you probably won’t be able to get aroused.  Then next time you try, you’ll remember that you couldn’t get aroused the last time you tried, and you’ll be caught up in a downward spin..  Clear your mind of such negative thoughts and try again.  Don’t worry if you don’t succeed the first time.  Or the second.  Or the thirtieth or fortieth.
  • Stress or fear can also inhibit arousal.  If you’re too distracted by other things, you might keep talking yourself out of becoming aroused.  Calm down and relax and try again.  Try a different time, when you’re not so wound up.  If you’re afraid of being aroused, don’t be.  It doesn’t hurt.  Many, many people have become aroused (including many you know), without any ill effects.  You may enjoy it, if you give yourself permission to.
  • Thinking that your body is ugly or your genitals are gross or -ewww fluids-, or something along those lines can make you not want to be aroused.  So, on those notes, your body isn’t ugly, your genitals aren’t gross, and there are ways to avoid the fluids (which are easy to get rid of by washing your hands, anyway).
  • Some drugs and alcohol can turn arousal right off.  Getting drunk or high may end up leading to sex that wouldn’t have happened when sober, but that’s primarily because getting high or drunk tends to lower inhibitions, not because it makes you more likely to become aroused.  It’s well documented that alcohol consumption can lead to impotence.
  • Taking certain medications can reduce sexual arousal.  Two well known culprits are the birth control pill and anti-depressants, but they are by no means the only ones.  If you used to be able to get aroused, but you haven’t had as much luck since you started taking a new pill, tell your doctor about it.
  • Some physical conditions may make arousal difficult or painful.  If you think you may have one of these conditions, speak with your doctor.

What’s a libido?  Is it like arousal?

Libido is often called a “sex drive”.  It’s an urge to engage in some kind of sexual activity.  It’s primarily a mental thing.  Arousal, on the other hand, is a primarily physical thing, where the genitals wake up and get ready for some sort of sexual activity.  It’s possible to have a libido and not be aroused and it’s possible to be aroused without a libido, although, often if you have a libido, it will contribute to arousal and arousability.

Think of it this way:  The libido is when your genitals say “Hey!  Hey!  Down here!  Notice me!  I wanna do something!  Down here!  Hey!  Listen!” and generally nag you for attention.  Arousal is when your genitals physically react to something.  Either one can happen without the other, but if your genitals are nagging you, they’re also more likely to be reacting physically.

Not everyone has a libido.  If you’re perfectly fine without having a sex drive, then there’s nothing wrong with that.  However, if you used to have a libido and it’s suddenly disappeared, you may want to consult a doctor, as that could be a sign of a medical issue.

For some people, libido is a fairly constant background noise.  You may experience it to some extent all the time.  For others, it seems to come and go.  In particular, if you have a menstrual cycle, you may find that your libido acts up for a few days during part of the cycle, then quiets down until next month.

It is possible to ignore your libido and not engage in any kind of sexual activity, even though it wants you to do something.  It’s also possible to decide to engage in some kind of sexual activity, even without a libido encouraging you to do so.

Can asexuals have a libido?

Yes, aces can.  To many people, the concept is a bit strange.  How can an asexual have a “sex drive” and still be considered asexual?  The answer is that asexuality is about attraction, not action.  For non-asexual people, the libido often manifests in thoughts like “I’m horny and I would like to have sex with that person because I find them sexually attractive”, while for asexual people, it’s often more like “I’m horny and … uh, what now?”  It’s an undirected sex drive.  Their body is begging for sexual activity, but it’s not begging for it from a particular source.  In many cases, asexual people with a libido will resolve the issue by masturbating, but it’s also possible that they’ll have sex with a partner or even just ignore it and do nothing at all until it goes away.

On the other hand, many asexuals do not have a libido.  They never feel an innate urge to engage in sexual activity.  That doesn’t mean that they can’t engage in sexual activity (whether that be masturbation, partnered sex, or what have you), it just means that there’s never a compelling urge to do so.

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An Asexual’s Guide To … Male Masturbation

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The techniques and details described in this post are not the only way to masturbate.  They’re not the “correct” way or the “best” way.  They may not even work for you.  They’re provided as a base upon which you can experiment and learn what works for you.

Okay, so, I’ve got a penis and I want to try masturbating.  How do I go about doing that?

The first step is to get ready.  Find a comfortable and safe position, where you’ll have enough time to experiment and try things out without being disturbed.  Lock your door if that would make you feel more comfortable.  You may want some sort of lube to help things along.  Pretty much anything slippery will do, but try to avoid soap or shampoo, because those have a tendency to dry out your skin or cause a burning sensation if they get in your urethra, neither of which is very fun.  Lube specifically designed for sexual activity (typically called “personal lubricant”) is your best bet, but something like hand lotion, baby oil, or Vaseline will also work.  (However, oil and latex don’t mix, so if there’s any chance that a condom and another person will be involved in your session, stick to water-based personal lubricants that are specifically made for use with condoms.  To repeat:  Do not use hand lotion, baby oil, Vaseline, or anything else like that if there’s going to be a condom involved.)  And finally, you’ll want to have a towel or some tissues nearby.  If you end up having an orgasm, you’ll probably ejaculate, and you’ll probably want to clean that up.  (Or just masturbate in the shower or bath and wash it all down the drain.)

All the prerequisites are taken care of, it’s time to get down to business.  The most common and most straightforward way to masturbate is to wrap your hand around your penis and stroke up and down repeatedly until you orgasm or decide to stop.  That’s the technique I’m going to explain here.

For this to work, you’re going to need access to your penis.  I’d suggest taking off your pants and underwear, so it’s all out there and freely reachable, and so you don’t have to worry about accidental stains on your pants when you’re done.  Of course, it’s also possible to pull your penis out through your fly, although that can sometimes lead to painful zipper bites.  Or if you want, you can simply reach into your underwear and do it entirely inside your pants, but that typically leads to restricted motion, which may make things uncomfortable and more difficult.

Now you’ll need an erection, also known as a hard-on.  This is where your penis fills with blood, becomes somewhat stiff, and tends to stand up.  At this point, most other resources will direct you to “Think of that hot girl in accounting” in order to get an erection, but since you’re here, I’m assuming you’re ace, so that’s probably not going to work so well for you.  That means you’ll need to get one some other way.  Of course, you might already have one from reading this far and anticipating what’s next.  Awesome, you’re ready to go!  Then again, you may know how to achieve erection, in which case, proceed.  Or, you can always wait until you have one naturally for some reason.  Morning wood can be used for masturbation, just like any other erection.

However, in many cases, you might have to help your little soldier stand at attention when you want to use it.  Here’s a few things you might try to get you up and running.  Feel free to mix and match these techniques.  If one doesn’t work on its own, it might work with the help of another.

  • Touch or rub your penis.  This may seem obvious, but it’s often rather effective.  Don’t just poke it with a finger or hold it like you would when you pee, but run your fingers or hand around it.  Near the head on the underside (the side that faces your balls when you’re soft) is an area that’s often more sensitive than the rest of skin.  Rubbing there in a circular motion may get you aroused.
  • Grab and pull your penis.  Don’t yank or jerk, but gently pull it outward and move it around.  Start stroking or pushing along it.
  • Move the loose skin back and forth.  Pull the skin back, then pull the skin up over the head over and over.  If you have a foreskin, pull it back all the way.  Try gently pinching, rolling, or stretching the skin.
  • Caress your stomach, inner thighs, and balls.  Try focusing on other areas around your penis.  Those regions are often fairly sensitive and may send a wake-up signal to your equipment.
  • Constrict the base of your penis for a short time.  Make a loop with your thumb and forefinger around your penis, down near where it attaches to your body.  Make the finger loop tighter. This will allow blood to enter, but make it more difficult to leave, which may result in an erection.  Toys called “cock rings” do this same thing.  Don’t stay like this for too long or hold it too tightly, or you’ll cut off circulation, which could be bad.
  • Apply pressure to your penis.  Press it against your body with your hand.  Lean against something, so that your penis is between your body and something else.  Or try laying face down, with your penis between your body and your mattress.  Make a gentle rocking motion with your hips to vary the pressure on your shaft.  You might also try crossing your legs with your penis between them.
  • Tense or clench your genital muscles.  Try tensing the muscles that you use to hold back pee.  Clench and hold, or repeatedly tense and release.  After a while, you might start to get an erection.
  • Think about sex, look at porn, or read something erotic.  Yeah, you’re asexual, but this still may work anyway.  Don’t ask me why, I haven’t figured it out myself.
  • Use a vibrator.  The little buzzing machines aren’t just for a clitoris.  A penis can be woken up by one, too.  That zone on the underside is a good place to try placing it.

By the way, you don’t actually have to have a full erection to begin masturbating.  An erection isn’t an on-off binary, where you’re either completely soft or rock hard.  There’s a huge area in between, and you can usually work with your penis even if it’s in a semi-erect state.  So, if you’re able to get yourself partially hard, but not completely there, then you’re probably far enough along to continue.  The later stimulation will likely complete the erection.  And if you start to lose the erection after you’ve started, come back to these tricks and you might be able to regain it.

Okay, so now you have an erection (Or at least enough of one) and are ready to go.

At this point, pretty much anything that slides up and down your penis over and over may eventually lead to an orgasm.  Some techniques are very effective, while others are a quick trip to rug burn.  I’m going to describe one of the most common techniques.  Note that this is not the only way to masturbate.  There are many variations that you can do, so I’d encourage you to experiment and improvise in order to find out what works best for you.

Reach down and wrap your hand (doesn’t matter which) around your erection.  Your grip should sort of be like you’re holding a cup or a refrigerator door handle.  Your thumb and forefinger should be able to completely close a loop around your penis near the head, your palm will fully contact the shaft, while the rest of the fingers will curl around as far as they can reach.  You want to hold tight enough that you can feel some pressure, but not so tight that you’re really squeezing it.  You’re not trying to pull off your penis, so you don’t need a death grip.

Start sliding your hand up and down the shaft of your penis.  It should be a smooth, continuous motion.  If you’ve ever seen the piston on an oil well or on a steam locomotive, think of the continuous back-and-forth movement of one of those.  You don’t want to “jerk” it or “yank” it, despite what the common euphemisms for masturbation imply.  Keep stroking up and down your penis repeatedly.  If you have no idea how fast to be going, try about one or two full up and down strokes per second, but don’t worry about precise timing.  Faster or slower is okay, and you’ll find the speed that works for you.

There should be some play in the skin of your shaft.  Your grip should be tight enough so that the skin moves slightly back and forth with your hand, but loose enough that it’ll slip back into position as you move.  You don’t want a grip so tight that it feels like you’re going to pull the skin off or so loose that you don’t feel the skin move at all.  If you have a foreskin, you might be able to slide that back and forth.

You do not have to move your hand along the entire length of your penis with every stroke.  The base of the shaft is less sensitive than the head, so you may not get much from stroking the base.  Then again, the head may be too sensitive to stroke, so you may want to avoid it at certain times.  You’ll probably keep your hand in contact with your penis most of the time as you stroke, instead of pulling it completely off the end with every movement.  Sometimes you might make several short strokes close to the head between strokes along the full length.

If your hand’s not sliding smoothly across the skin of your penis as you stroke, you may want to use some of that lubricant that I mentioned above.  Start with a small amount, like a drop or two.  It’s easy to add more, but harder to take it away.  You want to add enough so that you reduce friction, but not so much that you’ve completely eliminated it.  Too little and it’ll probably feel sticky, but too much and your hand will slip right off.  Make sure that the lube is spread around to all of your fingers and your palm.  If it starts to dry out, adding a little bit more or a few drops of water will usually bring it back.

As you continue to stroke, it should start to feel different downstairs.  It probably will begin to feel good.  Varying the pressure of your grip (even mid-stroke), the speed of the stroke, the angle you’re holding it, even how many fingers you’re using may all have an effect on how much pleasure you experience.  Everyone is different.  Some people like fast strokes while others take it slow, but too fast may cause irritation and too slow may not be enough stimulation to keep the erection up.  Some prefer looser grips and others prefer more pressure, but too loose and you won’t feel anything and too tight and it might hurt.  There’s no “perfect” speed or pressure, so you’ll have to experiment with what works best for you.

There are various areas of your penis that will react to stimulation differently.  The shaft is probably the least sensitive area.  On the underside of the penis, near the head, there may be a zone that is very pleasurable to stimulate.  A band of skin called the frenulum connects the shaft to the head in that area, and the frenulum can be quite sensitive, although it’s unfortunately sometimes removed during circumcision.  The head is often the most sensitive area.  Sometimes, particularly for someone who is uncircumcised, the head may even be too sensitive to stimulate directly until you reach a high enough level of arousal and your body is prepared for it.  The corona, the ridge around the base of the head can also be a highly sensitive region.

Now, you may be thinking, “If the head is so sensitive, why don’t I just spend all my time focused on that?”  Well, the answer is that it’s generally too intense to do that.  The stimulation will sort of overload your senses and it may become too much to take.  If it starts to feel too intense, back off a bit.  Slow down, loosen your grip, maybe retreat to the shaft for a while and stroke the head a bit less.

Okay, so, you’re stroking over and over, and hopefully it’s starting to feel like you’re getting somewhere.  There’s a misconception that you won’t feel much of anything until all of a sudden, BOOM! Orgasm.  That’s typically not how it works.  It’ll probably start to feel good well before the orgasm, with a small surge of pleasure with every stroke up or down.  You’ll start to get a feeling for which areas feel best, and you’ll start to focus on them.  You’ll probably start to adjust your speed and pressure to maximize the sensation.  Just keep at it like this.

Don’t worry about whether or not you have an orgasm.  You probably won’t have one the first time you masturbate.  Or first five times.  Or maybe even your first hundred.  Don’t try to force it and don’t feel discouraged if you don’t have one.  It doesn’t mean you’re broken, it doesn’t mean you’re impotent, it doesn’t mean you’re unable to have one.  More than likely, it just means you’re inexperienced.  So, just relax and keep doing what feels good and trying different things when something doesn’t feel good, and eventually, you’ll probably get there.  If it doesn’t feel like you’re getting anywhere this time, then stop for now, don’t sweat it, and try again later.

However, if it feels like you’re getting somewhere, keep going.  As you proceed, the pleasure will probably increase.  You may notice that your pulse and breathing have changed.  Muscles all over your body may start to tense up or shake involuntarily.  You may start to focus on the sensations and begin to tune the rest of the world out.  Eventually, you may feel like you’re climbing a hill or pushing against a wall, that’s there’s a sense that something is about to happen, if you can just get there.  At this point, a lot of people become nervous and think that something’s wrong or that they’ve hit a dead end, so they stop masturbating.  Keep going, keep trying to get to the other side.  You may want to change the speed and pressure of your strokes at this point.  A lot of people will go faster and grip tighter in an effort to get over that hill.  You’re not far off from the orgasm, so keep going.

In some cases, your penis might pulse or twitch when you’re at this stage.  That’s not a sign that something’s wrong, it’s just your body preparing for what’s next.  This doesn’t always happen, though, so don’t worry if it doesn’t happen to you.

Eventually, all that repetitive stroking you’ve been doing will pay off.  You’ll have a sensation that you’ve made it to the top of the hill and you’ll start coasting down the other side.  This is the orgasm.  Usually, there will be an intense surge of pleasure that lasts for several seconds.  Often, there will be a series of rhythmic muscular pulses in your penis, kinda like a very strong heartbeat.  These pulses are often accompanied by a surge of pleasure.  They’re roughly a second apart at the start, but they slow down and become weaker with each passing pulse.  You can have from one to over ten of these pulses, but generally you’ll probably have somewhere between 3 and 7 of them.

Most of the time, you’ll also ejaculate when you orgasm.  Ejaculation is when the muscular pulses pump semen through your penis, causing it to come out of the end.  Semen is a whitish (or maybe yellowish) liquid that generally contains sperm.  Sometimes, it’ll just dribble out the end, while other times it’ll squirt out with such force that it can fly several feet.  Sometimes it’s thick, while other times it’s runny.  The volume of semen, as well as the strength of the ejaculation is different for every person, every time they have one.  In many cases, if you haven’t ejaculated in a while, it’ll tend toward thicker and more volume, while if you’ve ejaculated more recently, it’ll become thinner and there will be less.  I should probably point out that although your testicles produce the sperm, they’re not really all that involved when ejaculation happens.  They don’t pump anything, and if you touch them during ejaculation, you won’t feel them moving at all.

Your first few times, an orgasm may feel more weird than good.  You’ve got muscles moving on their own in ways you’re not used to, you’ve got sensory input you’ve never had before, and you’ve probably got strange liquids being expelled from your body.  You may even feel slightly nauseous.  It’s almost a guarantee that it won’t be a mind-blowing, world-shaking experience and it probably won’t be the best feeling ever.  More than likely, you’ll get used to the sensations of orgasm over time and it’ll start to feel better as you go along.

After you orgasm, you’ll probably feel deeply relaxed.  All the tension that had built up while you were climbing that hill has been released.  At the same time, your penis has probably become very very sensitive.  Trying to continue stroking it is probably unbearably intense.   Even a light motion might be uncomfortable.  You can let go of yourself at this point, but you may also enjoy the feeling of simply holding your penis (without moving anything) for a while afterward.  During this time, you’ll gradually lose your erection and your heart rate and breathing will return to normal.

Most people will stop at this point.  Most of the time, everything downstairs will need a bit of time to recharge.  You’ll probably lose your erection and find it difficult to get another one for a period of a few minutes or up to several hours.  This is called the refractory period.

In any case, that’s just one of many ways that you can masturbate.  As I’ve been saying all along, don’t be afraid to experiment and try other things.  You’re the only person who can know what works best for you.

tl; dr:  Put your hand around your cock and stroke until you come.

What if I don’t want to touch myself?

If you’re not a fan of direct contact with your penis, then you can try wearing a rubber glove on your hand or a condom on your penis while you masturbate.  You will almost certainly need to use lube in this case, and if you go the condom route, be sure to put some both inside and outside.  This method has the benefit of being pretty much identical to the hand stroking technique outlined above.

If that’s still not your cup of tea, you can try using toys.  Many masturbation sleeves cover your penis completely, so with the exception of possibly helping your penis into the sleeve, you won’t have to touch it while you masturbate.  I’ll talk about some of them in a bit.  However, you’d have to purchase a toy, so that may not be the best solution.

Another option is to remain fully clothed and grind against something.  Grinding or humping is when you press your penis against something, then rock your hips back and forth in order to stimulate yourself.  The hip rocking motion should either move the penis or it should change the pressure point, in either case, the part of the penis that’s being stimulated will change as you rock.   Lying face down on a mattress is a common way to do this, as is grinding against a couch or other piece of furniture.  There are downsides to grinding, though.  First, since you’re probably grinding against rough clothing, you may end up irritating your penis.  Second, if you orgasm, you’re probably going to ejaculate in your underwear, which would probably get a bit messy.

What if I don’t like fluids?

Probably the best way to avoid fluids is to wear a condom while you masturbate.  They’re specifically designed to catch and contain your semen when you ejaculate, after all.  You can put one on when you first get started, wear it the whole time you’re masturbating, then take it off and throw it away when you’re done. The downside is that condoms can get expensive if you’re buying them all the time.

You can try keeping a tissue or a towel handy.  When you sense that you’re about to come, place the tissue around the head of your penis and cover your urethra and try to catch the ejaculate.

Masturbating in the shower is another good way to deal with fluids.  When you ejaculate, it goes straight down the drain, and you can immediately wash your hands.  A similar technique would be to ejaculate directly into a toilet.

Many masturbation toys will contain your semen after you ejaculate.  You simply ejaculate into the toy, then wash it out later.  These toys also contain the lubricant, leaving your hands clean and dry.  I’ll talk about them shortly.

Another option is to stop before you reach orgasm and ejaculation.  It can still be quite pleasurable.  If you learn the signals of your body, you’ll be able to tell when you’re about to reach orgasm, so you can slow down or stop for a bit then resume a while later.  This allows you to continue masturbating almost indefinitely without having an orgasm.

Are the fluids harmful?

Your own precum and your own semen are not harmful to you in any way.  It’s perfectly safe to touch them, it’s even safe to ingest them if you think you’d be into that.  Semen might start to smell bad after a while, but you’re probably going to clean up long before that happens.

What about toys or other implements?

Masturbation toys, also called sex toys, are a way to enhance or alter your masturbation experience.  You can use them in addition to or in place of another masturbation technique.  Some toys won’t get you to orgasm on their own, but they can potentially increase the pleasure.  There are far too many types to talk about all of them, so I’m just going to cover a few of the common ones.

  • Penis Sleeve:  A sleeve is a toy that encloses your penis.  You typically apply lube to the sleeve, insert your penis, grab the sleeve and stroke with it.  The sleeve usually has soft ridges or bumps or some other texture on the inside to vary and increase the stimulation.  Sometimes, sleeves are little more than a thin tube that’s open on both ends, while other times, the sleeve is made of a thicker material, or closed off on one end.  Sleeves that are large enough or that are closed on one end are often a good way to contain the ejaculation for easy cleanup. Occasionally, sleeves have an opening that resembles a body part, but the opening rarely has any practical effect on the stimulation.  Common sleeves include the Tenga brand and the Fleshlight.
  • Vibrator:  A vibrator is wide term that encompasses any toy that vibrates.  You typically press the vibrator against a sensitive spot on your penis, run it around your testicles, or, in some cases, insert it in your anus.  Most vibrators have adjustable speed or strength.  Vibrators by themselves may not get you all the way to orgasm easily, but they can be used to help with arousal or enhance the sensation of orgasm.  There are multiple types of vibrators.  Bullet vibes, where the vibrating motor is encased in a small egg are fairly popular.  Dildo vibes are the combination of a dildo and a vibrator.  Cock ring vibes are the combination of a cock ring and a bullet vibe and allow hands free stimulation of your penis.  Ring vibes that are sometimes sold with condoms are typically single use and have weak motors powered by watch batteries.  It’s possible to get stronger ring vibes which have larger vibrators attached, and which are powered by AA batteries.  Then there’s the personal massager vibrators, which are typically larger, stronger, and are usually marketed as back massagers.  The Hitachi Magic Wand is a popular personal massager.
  • Cock Rings:  A cock ring is a ring that fits around your penis (sometimes your penis and testicles), and is designed to restrict blood flow.  Restricting blood flow tends to create a stronger erection, because the blood can get in, but has a harder time getting back out.  Most of the time, cock rings are passive, you just put it on and leave it on until you’re done.  Sometimes, however, they’ll have vibrators attached, which can provide additional stimulation.  Cock rings should not be used for an extensive period of time and you should take it off immediately if it starts to hurt.  Also, remember that your penis probably will grow when you get erect, so a size that fits when you’re soft might become uncomfortably tight when you’re hard.  Don’t use a ring that you can’t cut off in an emergency, or you might be facing an embarrassing visit to the ER…
  • Dildos:  A dildo is a generally somewhat cylindrical toy that is designed for penetration.  Sometimes a dildo may have a vibrator inside it, and sometimes a dildo might be designed to resemble a penis.  You use it by applying generous lube and carefully inserting it in your anus.  You may choose to move it in and out, or you may with to simply leave it there.  Anal stimulation rarely leads to orgasm on its own, but it often will enhance the pleasure of masturbation.  Anal dildos are an effective way to stimulate your prostate.  Be sure to only use toys specifically designed for anal penetration, which typically have a ridge to prevent the whole thing from going inside and getting stuck.  Also, take note of the size.  Many dildos are designed for vaginal penetration, so they can be fairly large and using them in your anus can be very uncomfortable and unpleasant.  Anal penetration can also be a bit messy, so be prepared to clean both the toy and yourself when you’re finished.  The Aneros is a dildo that’s specifically designed for prostate stimulation.
  • Handheld Shower Head:  If you have one of those detachable handheld shower heads on the end of a small hose, you can direct the spray toward your penis, testicles, or perineum.  Adjust the spray pattern and water temperature to find what works best.  In some cases, you may find that a direct spray at a specific spot works, while other times it may be more effective to sweep the spray across your genitals.  It can be difficult to reach orgasm with only the spray from a shower head.  You may wish to direct the water at your balls while you stroke your penis.

Ejaculating seems messy.  What do I do about that?

First, it’s important to understand that there typically isn’t much fluid produced when you ejaculate, often no more than a few milliliters.  That means there isn’t too much to clean up, and it also means that it’s fairly easy to contain, if that’s what you want to do.  As I mentioned in an earlier response, you can contain it when you ejaculate by using condoms, certain toys, or by finishing into a tissue or towel, or you can simply masturbate in the shower and wash it all away.

You can also deal with it by controlling where you ejaculate.  Some people will shoot into toilet or sink when they masturbate, while others might try to aim it so that all of the semen lands on their stomach, where it’s a quick wipe to get rid of.  It’s also possible to ejaculate into your cupped hand, then wash it off from there.  Also, instead of ejaculating directly into a tissue or towel, you can place it on your stomach and chest or wherever and just ejaculate onto it.

Some of these techniques are more disruptive than the others.  If you’re lying in bed masturbating, it can be quite a shift to jump up and run to the bathroom to ejaculate when you feel orgasm coming on.  Try different methods, and you’ll find one that works well and doesn’t distract from the experience.

There are several techniques to prevent ejaculation during orgasm.  One is to apply pressure, either by squeezing very tightly around the base of the penis or by pressing hard against the perineum.  Both of these techniques will close off the urethra and not allow semen to exit through the penis, but both can also cause discomfort.  Another method is to clench and hold the muscles around the penis as tight as you can for as long as you can during orgasm  This will disrupt the ejaculatory pumping, and you may experience and orgasm without ejaculation.  (These are also some of the techniques that could lead to multiple orgasm.)  Both of these techniques are not 100% effective and take a lot of practice to get right.

If you ejaculate on something, you’ll probably want to clean it up fairly soon after you’re done.  Semen will turn dry and crusty after a while, and will probably leave a yellowish stain behind.  (So, don’t use your favorite shirt to soak it up…)

Will I always ejaculate when I masturbate?

Not necessarily.  While orgasm and ejaculation usually happen at the same time, they’re not actually the same thing.  It’s possible to have an orgasm without ejaculating.  Sometimes it just happens, where you get some sense of an orgasm happening, but nothing comes out.  Other times, you may have ejaculated so many times within a short period of time that there’s not really anything left.  And, as mentioned above, you may also be able to train yourself to have an orgasm without ejaculating.

Of course, there’s no guarantee that you’ll get anywhere close to the orgasm/ejaculation zone when you masturbate.  And even if you do, if you’re able to sense when you’re getting close, you can easily stop before you get there.

On the other hand, if you do experience orgasm when you masturbate, but you rarely or never ejaculate, you may be experiencing what’s called retrograde ejaculation, where the semen enters the bladder instead of exiting through the penis.  If that’s what’s happening, you might want to consult with a doctor about it, especially as it may point to a condition that’s more serious than simply not ejaculating when you orgasm.

If I don’t masturbate, will I explode from an unreleased buildup of semen?

No, not at all.  Semen doesn’t endlessly build up in some internal balloon until you eventually ejaculate.  If you fail to ejaculate regularly, exactly nothing happens.  Most of the time, the sperm produced will simply be reabsorbed into the body.  Occasionally, you may have a wet dream and ejaculate while you sleep.  But you’re not going to explode because there’s too much sperm in you.

Think about people who’ve had vasectomies.  A vasectomy doesn’t do anything to turn off the testicles.  They’re still there and running, constantly producing new sperm.  A vasectomy just cuts off the tubes that connected the testicles to the penis, so that the sperm has no way to get out.  People who’ve had vasectomies don’t have to go in for a sperm draining every couple of weeks.  The sperm just gets absorbed back into the body, and that’s the end of it.

People who say that they’re going to explode are just exaggerating.  They might have a high libido, they might really enjoy orgasm, but nothing physically is going to happen to them if they don’t ejaculate.

What’s the deal with the prostate?

The prostate is an organ that produces some of the ejaculatory fluids.  It’s located just behind the forward wall of your rectum.  And for some reason, despite its location, it can feel good if you stimulate it in some way.

Prostate stimulation should be considered an “advanced technique”.  If you’re just starting out, it’s best to get a little bit more experience masturbating before trying to include the prostate in your play time.  Otherwise it’ll just unnecessarily complicate things.  Even if you’re a veteran, you may not find prostate stimulation to be worth the trouble.

The prostate is not in a terribly accessible location, so stimulating it isn’t the easiest thing to do.  It can be reached by sticking a well-lubed finger in your anus.  (Be sure to clip your fingernails first!)  Go in a couple of inches, then press against the wall toward your front.  You should eventually come across a walnut-sized lump on the other side of the wall.  That lump is your prostate.  If you’re not too keen on sticking a finger up your butt, there are many toys that are specifically designed for prostate stimulation.  They typically have a curved shape that will press against the prostate when inserted.  And if you’re not a fan of anything at all going in that opening, then it’s sort of possible to stimulate the prostate from outside.  There’s a soft patch in your perineum, directly in front of your anus.  If you press there, you should be able to feel your prostate.

Prostate stimulation generally consists of rubbing it or pressing against it.  Some people claim that prostate stimulation alone can cause orgasms, orgasms without ejaculation, or ejaculation without an orgasm, but in most cases, it just tends to increase the intensity of the sensation.  It also may make it so that a much larger than usual amount of pre-ejaculatory lubricant will flow from your penis, even if you’re not doing anything to stimulate your penis.

Can I have multiple orgasms?

Maybe.  There’s a common belief that once there’s been an orgasm, the penis goes into sleep mode and can’t be used again for a while.  While that’s typically the case, it can be possible, with practice, to be able to have an orgasm, but then keep going afterward.

Multiple orgasms should be considered an “advanced technique”.  If you’re just starting out, it’s best to get a bit more experience masturbating before going for extra innings.  Otherwise it’ll just unnecessarily complicate things.  Even if you’re a veteran, you may not find going for multiple orgasms to be worth the trouble.

One technique is to prevent ejaculation when you orgasm.  This can be done by tightly squeezing the base of the penis or pushing hard against the perineum just as the orgasm starts, in order to close off the urethra.  This way may, however, be uncomfortable.  Another method is to tighten and hold the muscles you use when you pee.  As soon as the orgasm starts, stop stimulating yourself and clench those muscles and hold them as tight as you can for as long as you can.  You’ll probably need to have strong PC muscles to pull this off, so practice those Kegels!

Another technique is to completely relax and stop stimulating your penis as soon as the orgasm starts.  Completely relax and hands off.  Your penis will probably twitch and pump and you’ll likely ejaculate a little bit.

In either case, once you feel the orgasm is ending, resume stimulation.  If you’re successful, you won’t feel too sensitive or not sensitive enough.  It’ll be just right, and the stimulation will feel pretty much like it did before the orgasm.  You should be able to build it back up for another orgasm (and possibly another and another…).  You probably won’t be able to keep going forever, though.  Each successive orgasm tends to become harder to obtain.

The orgasms in a sequence of multiple orgasms are often less pleasurable than the typical single orgasm.  This is because you’re disrupting the process and making it less intense.  Unfortunately, this means that if you ever fail to ride through the orgasm and aren’t able keep going on to another one, you’ll probably only have had a relatively weak and unsatisfying orgasm, and be facing a limp penis that’s not interested in continuing.  Because of this, you’ll probably want to try to finish with an orgasm that you don’t intentionally disrupt.

If you decide to pursue multiple orgasms, be aware that it takes a lot of practice and a willingness to experience disappointment while you try to get the hang of it.  Even if you get it figured out, you may decide that it’s not worth the effort.

What other things can I try?

The penis isn’t the only body part that you can use while masturbating.  Try caressing your testicles or your perineum, try touching or pinching your nipples, try rubbing your thighs, stomach, or chest.  All of those places, and more, can enhance the experience.  In particular, don’t be afraid of your testicles.  They’re not as fragile as you might expect.  Don’t be afraid to rub, tug, or even squeeze them.  Just start gently and work up from there.

Some people enjoy anal stimulation.  You can try rubbing the opening, or gently push a well lubed (and well-manicured) finger inside.  The prostate, mentioned before, lives in that area.

You can try sitting on a rubber ball, rolled up sock, or bunched up blanket or towel in such a way that it presses gently against your perineum.  The penis extends back into the body, just above the perineum, so pressure there can work to stimulate that extension of your penis.

Try a different grip on your penis.  The “door handle” grip is just one.  You can turn that grip upside-down, so that your thumb and forefinger are on the positioned closer to the base.  You can place your fingers down the side of your penis and have the head cupped by the palm of your hand as you stroke.  You can use only fingertips.  Any way you can hold your penis is a valid way to try masturbating.

Go at it two handed.  You can stack your hands on top of one another and have an extra long stroke.  You can perform an “endless” stroke by stroking one direction with one hand, then when you reach the end, place the other hand and stroke with it, in a continuous motion.  You can stroke with one hand, and rub circles with the other.  You can place the palm of one hand over the opening in the other hand, so that a downstroke will have the head of the penis rub against the palm of the hand.  You can rub your penis between two palms.  Or you can have one hand pay attention to the shaft, while the other hand works the head.  Any way you can think of to use two hands it probably something worth experimenting with.

You can try a completely different method of masturbation, one that does not involve manual stroking.  One fairly common method is to thrust into something smooth and slippery.  The smooth and slippery object can be any number of things:  Your lubed up hand, a penis sleeve or similar toy, a condom, or even something improvised, like a plastic sandwich bag with a little bit of lube placed inside.  You can try sandwiching the object between a couple of pillows on your bed.  You might want to place a towel between the object and the pillows, in case any lube or anything else spills out.  Once you’re set up, you lie face down on top of the pillows and place your penis inside.  After you’ve adjusted everything and found a comfortable position, you can start moving your hips back and forth in order to thrust your penis in and out of the object.  This method often feels very different than masturbating by hand.  (And always, experiment with technique, speed, and pressure to discover what works best for you.)

What if it doesn’t feel good?

If you’re first getting started, it might not actually feel all that good.  You’ll probably have to try a couple of times before you start figure out what works for you.

If you’ve been at it for a while, but still nothing, shake up your technique a bit.  Switch hands, try using lube, try a different position, try using a toy, go faster or slower, relax or strengthen your grip.  In particular, try squeezing a bit when you stroke over the head of your penis, adjust your grip so that you press harder on the underside of your penis, or try tightening the loop made by your thumb and forefinger as you pass over the corona.  And remember, there’s no cookie-cutter way to masturbate.  What works for someone else might not work for you.

If you’ve tried it all and it still doesn’t feel good, then maybe it just won’t.  If it bothers you, you might want to consult with a doctor.  There may be a treatable medical reason for why it doesn’t feel good.  (Notably, it’s a side effect of many medications.)  However, if you’re cool with it, don’t worry about it.  You don’t have to masturbate or have orgasms to survive, so don’t worry about it.  It’s not your thing, but it doesn’t have to be your thing.

Are there any dangers or warnings I should know about?

  • This post has been written specifically about solo masturbation.  There are numerous health and safety concerns that would potentially need to be addressed if you’re doing anything I’ve mentioned here with someone else.  Most notably, there are countless disease prevention (and in some cases, pregnancy prevention) steps you would probably want to take that I have not mentioned here.
  • Don’t stick your penis into anything that wasn’t meant for it.  Always remember that a soft penis grows into a hard one, so something that’s easy to get into may be considerably harder to get out of.  Also, if the object is hard or rough, you could potentially cut, scrape, or otherwise injure yourself.
  • If you’re masturbating by thrusting into something, be careful not to accidentally jam your penis into something with the full force of a forward thrust.  Although there are no bones to break in your penis, it can still be severely injured by something like this.  If you slip out of whatever you’re thrusting into, carefully guide your penis back in before resuming full speed.
  • Watch what you use for lube.  Shampoo and soap might seem nice and slick, but it can severely dry out the skin or cause a rash.  They also may get into the urethra, where they’ll burn.  Some creams contain a “medicated” tingling or warming feature.  It might feel good on a sore back, but the sensation could be excruciating on your penis and testicles.  (Then again, that one’s up to individual preference…  Some people like how it feels…)
  • Inserting an object in your anus carries the risk of it getting stuck.  Save yourself an embarrassing visit to an emergency room and only use items that can’t get pulled completely inside and “lost”.  Many anal toys will have a ridge or tab to prevent them from going all the way in, or they’ll have a string attached to easy retrieval.
  • Make sure anything entering your anus is smooth and well lubed, and don’t force it in.  In particular, cut your fingernails!  A long fingernail might cut the inner lining, which can be unpleasant and runs the risk of infection.  Inadequate lubrication might cause irritation or tearing.
  • NEVER do ANYTHING that forcibly cuts off your airway while masturbating.  People have actually died from doing that.  You can hold your breath, but leave it at that.  Besides, taking long deep breaths can actually increase the sensations more than holding your breath will.
  • If it hurts, stop!  You’re probably doing something wrong.

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Can Asexual Men Get Erections?

Asexuality is not a physical condition.  It’s not a synonym for erectile dysfunction or impotence.  Most asexual males have a fully operational penis that is capable of erection (as well as all of the other things the phrase “fully operational penis” implies).

“But asexuals can’t masturbate!”

Do asexuals masturbate?

Maybe.

“Maybe” isn’t an answer.

But it’s accurate.

No, really, do they?

No. And yes. It depends on the person.

So some asexuals masturbate?

Correct. And some don’t. It’s perfectly fine either way.

Do you masturbate?

That is an extremely personal question and is quite rude to ask. Just because I’m asexual doesn’t mean that it’s somehow okay to ask me that.

But do you?

Yes. And I’m good at it, too. But if I weren’t writing a post about asexuality and masturbation, that little tidbit would be absolutely none of your damn business.

How can an asexual masturbate?

For the most part, they just kinda rub until-

No, I meant, how can someone who masturbates be considered asexual?

Simple. Masturbation has nothing to do with sexual orientation. A gay person doesn’t engage in some sort of homosexual masturbation. A straight person is still straight even if they don’t touch themselves now and then. It’s no different for asexuality.

But masturbating is a sexual act. You can’t perform sexual acts and still be asexual.

Certainly, masturbation is a sexual activity performed using sexual organs and it produces a sexual response. There’s a misconception that an asexual must be devoid of all sexual properties and sexual responses and cannot experience sexual pleasure. I used to believe that myself, in fact, before I discovered what asexuality really is. I used to think that I couldn’t be asexual because I masturbate. But not the case at all. Asexuality is all about attraction, not action, it’s an orientation, not behavior. Being asexual does not mean one cannot or does not take part in sexual activities. Being asexual means one does not experience sexual attraction. Asexual people generally can and sometimes do take part in sexual activity. Masturbation is the most common.

Why would an asexual person bother to masturbate?

  • Sometimes they do it to relax.
  • Sometimes they do it as a stress reliever.
  • Sometimes they do it because they’re bored.
  • For women, it can help with period pain.
  • For men, it can help with embarrassing issues like spontaneous erections or nocturnal emissions.
  • Sometimes they consider it a bodily function.
  • Sometimes they do it because their libido wants them to.
  • Sometimes they do it to prevent prostate cancer.
  • Sometimes they do it because it’s like “scratching an itch”.
  • Sometimes they like to perform a self-test to make sure everything is in working order.
  • Sometimes they just want to.
  • And, oh yeah, going out on a limb here, but could be because orgasms tend to feel good.

In other words, asexuals masturbate for pretty much the same reasons non-asexuals do. (Please note that this is not meant to be a complete list of possible reasons.)

So, it’s okay to be asexual and masturbate. It’s okay to like it, too. It doesn’t cancel out your asexuality, it doesn’t minimize your asexuality, it doesn’t mean you’re faking your asexuality.

How can someone who has an orgasm still claim to be asexual?

Having an orgasm does not, in any way, invalidate someone’s asexuality. An orgasm is a physical response to stimulation. It’s not related to one’s sexual orientation, it doesn’t require sexual attraction to work. To say that someone who has an orgasm can’t be asexual anymore is ridiculous. When a heterosexual has an orgasm, it’s not somehow a function of a heterosexual orientation. When a bisexual has an orgasm, it’s not a “bisexual orgasm”. So why would it be any different for an asexual? Why would the asexual orientation somehow get canceled out by an orgasm? Am I suddenly turned straight or turned gay by an orgasm? How would that happen? I wasn’t attracted to anyone before the orgasm and I’m still not afterward, so if I’m not asexual anymore, what am I?

Do asexuals enjoy orgasms?

In general, yes. I know I do.

How do asexuals masturbate?

Exactly the same way someone who isn’t asexual does, with all the variants that implies. There’s no such thing as “asexual” masturbation. We’ll use the same methods, techniques, and implements as everyone else. We’ll range in frequency from absolutely never to several times a day.

“Implements”? You mean sex toys?

Yes. Like many non-asexual people, some asexuals will use sex toys to help them get off. In fact, I probably have a larger collection of toys than most non-asexual people.

(And for the record, males can and do use sex toys, too.)

But some of these “implements” are anatomically correct. Doesn’t using them mean the person is attracted to the anatomical part it’s a facsimile of?

Absolutely not. Anatomically correct toys are designed that way because that shape is obviously quite effective at achieving the desired stimulation. Using something that works doesn’t somehow make someone less asexual. Or maybe they’re using one because they liked the color or because it was in the $5 bin. It doesn’t matter. Using sex toys of any kind, from a formless bullet vibrator up to a fully anatomically correct RealDoll does not mean someone is not asexual.

So, if you’re not attracted to people, what do you think about while you’re going at it?

Well, this is certainly different for different people, but here’s some things I think about: Furniture. Vacation plans. The weather. The day at work. Things I did with my ex-girlfriend. Politics. Things I did with myself in the past. Some TV show or movie I watched. Video game music from the 80s. However, for the most part, my thoughts are “That feels good” and “That feels even better”.

Wait… “Things I did with my ex-girlfriend”? How can you think about that and consider yourself asexual?

I can think about that because it felt good. I never found her sexually attractive. However, just because I never found her sexually attractive doesn’t mean that I didn’t find her sexually effective. When I was stimulated by her, it was extremely pleasurable and it did lead to orgasm. The memory of that sensation is extremely arousing. It’s not a memory of her body or a longing to have sex with her again. I was sort of bored when I had sex with her, even though it did feel good.

Don’t you ever fantasize?

Personally, I never really fantasize. I’ve tried, but it never works. My mind always focuses on the details and the stage direction and never on the imagining having sex part. Fantasies always seem to end up more distracting than anything. It’s so much effort to get the imaginary naked woman in the right pose and performing the right motions that the slightest stray thought would kick me out of the fantasy and force me to start over. (Not to mention that the thought of the imaginary naked woman in any pose never really did anything for me…) The one that’s come the closest to working is imagining myself demonstrating how I masturbate to someone else, which isn’t really much of a fantasy and usually just leads to me dropping the other person and going back to just thinking “That feels good”.

Some other asexuals will fantasize while masturbating. Often, they’ll describe it as imagining a sexual situation with a placeholder partner. Essentially a faceless, sometimes genderless prop that’s only there to provide an element that would be missing otherwise. For instance, they may imagine a person with a mouth performing oral sex on them. In this case, their thoughts are focused on the act itself and not any kind of attraction to the person performing the act. Sometimes the placeholder will be there to fulfill a fetish that the person finds arousing, in which case the focus is on the object of the fetish, and not the placeholder.

It always used to seem strange to me that so many people would say that you couldn’t masturbate without thinking of someone while doing it. There’s the religious thought that the reason masturbation is considered sinful is that it requires lust in the form of a fantasy, and I never understood that because I never needed lust, so why did anyone else? I would just grab it and go, without thinking about anyone. It was very mechanical. Fun, but mechanical.

How can you get aroused if you’re not thinking of someone sexually?

You don’t have to think of someone sexually in order to get aroused. You don’t have to be sexually attracted to anyone or anything in order to masturbate. You don’t have to be sexually attracted to someone to experience and enjoy an orgasm. All you have to do is touch your sensitive bits in the right way and presto! (And sometimes it doesn’t even take that much…) There’s a reward there that doesn’t require sexual attraction. I understand that, for most people, fantasy and attraction certainly helps the process, and I’m not disputing that. But it’s not a requirement.

Why would an asexual start to masturbate in the first place if they’re not turned on by someone?

Any number of reasons. Sometimes they’re told that it feels good and want to try it out. Other times their libido will kick in and downstairs will start screaming out for attention. And sometimes it’s because they think that’s what they’re supposed to do, after all, it seems like everyone else is.

In my case, in fifth grade sex ed (Which was basically nothing more than a vocabulary lesson) introduced me to the terms “masturbation” and “orgasm”. Masturbation was defined as “the self-stimulation of the genitals to orgasm” and orgasm was “an intense pleasurable sensation in the genitals”, and I eventually put the two definitions together and realized that it was something I wanted to try. I eventually managed to work out how it was done some time later.

You mentioned a libido? An asexual person can’t have a libido.

Actually, many asexuals do have a libido or a “sex drive”. They’ll have “urges” and desire sexual stimulation. But while for a non-asexual person, those urges tend to be directed toward another person, for an asexual, they’re often directionless. But that’s a topic for another post entirely…

What about porn?

What about it?

Do asexuals use porn?

You’re just asking that so you can say “Ha, gotcha!” when I answer, aren’t you?

No, not at all. Do they?

Sometimes, yes.

Ha! Gotcha! You can’t be asexual if you use porn!

I knew it…

Anyway, yes, asexuals sometimes will use porn while they masturbate. And no, it does not mean that they’re not asexual.

People who watch porn don’t necessarily find the performers sexually attractive. People who watch porn don’t always want to participate with the performers.

Consider it another way. Watching a cooking show on TV doesn’t necessarily make you want to cook whatever they’re fixing on the show, does it? You might not even like whatever it is. But it’s food, people are eating, and that makes you hungry. So you go get a bag of chips.

With porn, you might not want to do what they’re doing, you might not even like what they’re doing, but you may find it to be arousing simply because they’re aroused. You watch it and think “They seem to be enjoying what they’re doing. I have one of those, too, and I bet that feels good. Now I want to feel good.”

Enjoying porn has no bearing on your sexual orientation. Research has shown that women who are straight will often have a strong arousal response to lesbian scenes. And the very existence of the “money shot” in porn aimed at straight men should put any argument to rest. After all, if straight men didn’t find the shot of another man having an orgasm and ejaculating (Often by his own hand) to be arousing on some level, then why would it be so prevalent? It doesn’t mean that the viewer is secretly gay and repressed. It just means that they don’t necessarily have to feel sexual attraction toward something to be aroused by it.

In my case, I find most porn to be dull, uninteresting, and repetitive. I get more out of the sense that the performers are legitimately having a good time and experiencing pleasure than I do from the way they look or what they’re doing. I am very easily distracted by things in the background, like movies on a shelf or views out the window. And things like poor lighting and poor camera work will absolutely kill a scene. Sometimes I’ll watch porn for educational purposes, to see how other people do things and pick up a few tricks and techniques.

What about asexuals who don’t masturbate or don’t enjoy it?

Then they don’t masturbate or don’t enjoy it. Not every asexual has to masturbate. Not every asexual that does masturbate has to enjoy it. If you don’t masturbate, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. If it’s not your thing, don’t worry about it and don’t worry about what other people might think. It’s no one’s business but your own.

Will masturbating make someone not asexual somehow?

Masturbation isn’t suddenly going to make you not asexual anymore, so don’t feel like you have to try it to know for sure that you’re ace. I’m pretty solid evidence that no amount of masturbation is likely to change your orientation. At most, you might discover that you like the way it feels and want to keep doing it.

What about asexuals who are curious about trying it?

If you’re looking for a step-by-step instruction guide, nope, not going there. I do have some other advice, though.

First: Relax.

Second: Don’t turn it into a chore. Presumably you’re doing it because you want it to be fun. It won’t be fun if it’s a chore.

Don’t feel defeated if you don’t get anywhere your first attempt, because you probably won’t. No one does. You’re not a failure and your equipment probably isn’t defective. It’s a learned skill and takes practice. I probably had to try for months before I got anywhere. Of course, those were the days before search engines, so it was all trial and error for me. At any rate, persistence is the key. You need to find out what works for you and not be afraid to try something new. And don’t be afraid of calling in a little bit of artificial assistance. Many people, male, female, or otherwise, will use lubricants or toys to help them get off.

Don’t feel guilty, as if you’re betraying your asexuality. You’re not.

You don’t necessarily need a libido in order to become aroused. It probably helps, but it’s not required. With the right mindset and the right stimulation, you can usually wake things up downstairs. Honestly, I’m not even sure I have a libido. I rarely, if ever, feel “urges” or feel “horny”, or any of the other things people describe as a libido at work. Whenever I masturbate, I usually have to spend a bit of time getting myself ready. However, I have read things which claim that sexual activity itself in some cases may increase libido in a sort of feedback effect. The more you do, the more you want. So you may have a dormant libido that masturbation could potentially awaken.

And most of all, if you don’t like it, stop. You don’t have to do it if you don’t want to. If you’re not getting anything out of it, don’t do it and don’t worry about it.

Anything more?

I’ll just leave you with this:

If you’re asexual and you masturbate, then you’re still asexual.
If you’re asexual and you don’t masturbate, then you’re still asexual.
If you’re asexual and you masturbate to porn, then you’re still asexual.
If you’re asexual and you don’t masturbate to porn, then you’re still asexual.
If you’re asexual and you masturbate using sex toys, then you’re still asexual.
If you’re asexual and you don’t masturbate using sex toys, then you’re still asexual.
If you’re asexual and you masturbate and you like it, then you’re still asexual.
If you’re asexual and you masturbate and you don’t like it, then you’re still asexual.
If you’re asexual and you want to masturbate, but haven’t, then you’re still asexual.

(Please also see the companion post I wrote for Asexual Awareness Week, which elaborates more on my personal views on the topic, and where I stole a number of lines from:  http://www.asexualityarchive.com/aaw-day-6-masturbation/ )

On the Existence of Asexual Men

So, you’re a guy, right?

Last time I checked, yeah.

And you were born that way?

Yep.

And you’ve got all the guy parts?

Uh… Yeah…

And they all work?

As far as I can tell.

And you feel like you’re supposed to be a guy?

I guess so.

So, then, how can you call yourself “asexual”?

Because I don’t feel sexual attraction toward anyone.

But you said your parts work.

That they do.

And that you feel like you’re a guy.

Well, I don’t really care for football and I don’t own any power tools except for a drill, but other than that…

And yet you claim to be asexual?

Correct.

You’re wrong. Asexual men don’t exist. You’re either straight, gay, or bi, or something ain’t working right, or you’re really a woman trapped in a man’s body and are in denial. It’s impossible for a man to be asexual.

I exist, therefore your hypothesis has been refuted. Please try again with a new hypothesis which accounts for this new evidence. That’s how science gets done.

So… I don’t get it.

That much is clear. Why don’t we start this over from the top, huh?

So, you’re a guy, right?

Yes, I’m male. And “cisgender” as all those kooky kids and their crazy new-fangled words might call it. In other words, I’ve got the factory-original male equipment and the male mind to go with it.

And you’re asexual?

Yes.

But I don’t understand. How can you be male, with functioning parts, and still consider yourself asexual?

Asexuality does not depend on your anatomy. It’s not a function of gender. Asexuality is simply the lack of sexual attraction toward anyone. It’s just as possible to be asexual with a penis as it is to be asexual with a vagina as it is to be asexual with anything in between, and there’s no requirement that a person disown their privates in order to join the Ace Club.

And by “functioning parts”, you mean that you can get erections, right?

Yes, among other things that would be considered “functioning”.

A-ha! There! You’ve just proven that you’re not asexual!

What, because somehow an erection is an infallible sign that a man is sexually attracted to something?

I hate to break it to you, but erections are not necessarily a sign of sexual attraction. I doubt most men are sexually attracted to the tight clothes that they’re wearing. I doubt most men are sexually attracted to waking up in the morning. I doubt most men are sexually attracted to bumpy roads. I doubt most men are sexually attracted to randomly walking down the street. Yet most men have probably gotten erections from wearing tight clothes, waking up in the morning, driving on bumpy roads, and randomly walking down the street.

An erection is a physical process. Sure, it can sometimes be caused by emotional stimuli, such as sexual attraction, but attraction is not a requirement.

So, why do you think you’re asexual?

Because I don’t experience sexual attraction. I don’t look at women (or men, for that matter) and immediately think that I’d like to get them in my bed. I don’t feel what people mean when they use the word “hot” to describe someone. I don’t really think about sex and how I must get some RIGHT NOW or I’ll go insane.

What about the whole thing about how men think about sex every seven seconds?

I think about how that statistic is wrong every seven seconds.

Are you the only asexual male?

Um. No. There are clearly others.

Well, how come it doesn’t seem like there are?

[I didn’t conduct a survey or anything, so this section is mostly pure conjecture. I apologize if it’s completely off-base. If you have any objections to what I’m saying, please let me know and I can work to improve this area.]

I think the reason that it doesn’t seem like there are more asexual men is that men are less likely to realize and accept that they’re asexual. So much of the stereotypical male identity is wrapped up in sexual prowess that it’s difficult to step back and admit that you don’t really fit in that world. If you’re a man, you’re supposed to be constantly horny, always in the mood and always on the prowl. There’s simply no option for a man to feel otherwise. It’s as if semen is a highly volatile substance and if you fail to get it out of your body before it reaches a critical mass, you will literally explode. (And preferably with the assistance of someone else, too. If it doesn’t end up in or on someone else, where it will be neutralized by their body heat, then it can apparently remain dangerous, which is why masturbation is viewed as an outlet of last resort.) The only thing that can stand in the way of a man having sex is the inability to get an erection, but if you can’t get it up, there’s a pill for that, a pump for that, a ring for that, an implant for that…

But to say “I’m not interested”? Well, that’s just not possible for a man. Clearly, if he gets an erection, then he’s interested, right? In many ways, for a man, sexual attraction is seen as equivalent to getting hard. If he stands at attention looking at a woman, he’s straight, if he’s looking at a man, he’s gay, and so on. So, when he gets an erection and it’s not directed at anyone in particular, then maybe he just needs to sow his wild oats until he finds what does it for him. And there’s the irrational fear that if a man isn’t turned on by a woman then OMG HE MUST BE GAY, so he’ll force himself to believe that he’s attracted to women, even though he doesn’t feel anything in particular for men or women. It’s simply not acceptable for a man not to want to use that erection with someone. If he doesn’t, there must be something wrong with him, he must be broken.

And so, in a world where that’s not just the predominant view, but pretty much the only view, you can see how it’s hard for a man to figure out that he’s asexual. Faced with that sort of overwhelming attitude, he’s just going to hide how he feels, so he doesn’t appear to be weak or broken or damaged. Men aren’t supposed to admit their feelings, especially when those feelings aren’t shared by others.

Additionally, conflating sexual function with sexual attraction can lead some men to erroneously rule out asexuality. “I’ve had sex, therefore I’m not asexual, because I wouldn’t have been able to if I were asexual.” “I masturbate, therefore I’m not asexual, because I wouldn’t do that if I were asexual.” “I like having my penis touched by someone else, therefore I’m not asexual, because I wouldn’t like it if I were asexual.” They’ll take events like those, join them to even the faintest glimmers of aesthetic or romantic attraction and use that as evidence to prove that they’re straight or gay or bi or pan or whatever, when in reality, all they’re experiencing is a physical reaction to stimulation.

By the time a man reaches the age where they’ve gathered enough life experience to decide that they’re just not all that interested in sex, they’re typically at a point where they can say “Well, I’m not 18 anymore, the hormones have died down” or “The fires of passion always die down after a few years, but I still love her”, or any number of other convenient excuses that obscure the truth.

How did you figure it out?

It took me a solid week-long journey of self-discovery to come to the conclusion that I wasn’t simply “straight, but not very good at it” and that I was, in fact, asexual. I’d known for years that I just didn’t think about sex the same way other people did. I had a girlfriend that tried to awaken me sexually, but wasn’t all that successful. I just figured I was shy or that she wasn’t the one. I hadn’t had sex in over eight years and it didn’t bother me at all. I just figured I had a low libido or was just better at masturbating than everyone else or something. It never really occurred to me that I simply was not sexually attracted to anyone. I considered myself straight, pretty much through the process of elimination. After all, I’d never been attracted to a man, so therefore I had to be straight.

But it sort of bugged me. I didn’t fit. Whenever I heard other people talk about sex or about hot women, it was foreign to me. They may as well have been talking about golf.

One day, I had a conversation with a friend about a somewhat baffling depiction of sex on some TV show and as we went on, it became very clear that I was not like everyone else and that there had to be something out there, some reason, something to explain how I felt. It became too much to be able to deny anymore, so I went looking for answers. I went on my journey with open eyes, willing to embrace whatever it was that I discovered.

Asexuality is what I found. Asexuality fit me.

Pretty much everything fell into place at that point. All the things I’d done, all the things I thought, how I felt, it all made sense to me.

I went looking for answers. I went looking for myself. If I hadn’t taken that step, I’d still be “straight, but not very good at it”. Most men who may be asexual aren’t going to take that step. They don’t know that there is that step to take, or they’re afraid of what they’ll find, or it just doesn’t bother them enough to start looking.

And that points to the core issue. The information isn’t out there. For most people, there’s straight, there’s gay, there’s bi, and that’s all. They aren’t aware that there are other categories which might fit better. They aren’t aware that it’s perfectly fine for a man to not be sexually interested in anyone. If more men know about asexuality, more men will realize that’s what they are.

 

AAW Day 4: Porn

Yes.  Porn.

I’ve looked at porn before.  In fact, porn is a big reason how I knew that I was different sexually than most other people.

You see, everyone else seemed to really like porn.  Really really like it.  And I didn’t.  Not all of it, anyway.  After I got past the initial rebellious feelings of “OOH, I’M LOOKING AT BOOBIES!”, I just felt bored.

Yes, bored.

I was supposed to like it.  I was supposed to fantasize about taking part in every scene. I was supposed to turn into a drooling horn dog at the mere hint of an exposed nipple.

But I just didn’t.

It was repetitive.
It was fake.
It looked uncomfortable.
It was formulaic and predictable.

Thoughts ran through my mind…

No one ever does those things.
That would pull a muscle.
The camera angle is horrible.
The lighting is horrible.
Why is she pretending to have an orgasm when no one in the scene is touching anything capable of producing that reaction?

I didn’t want to do pretty much anything I saw.  I could not imagine myself in the scenes.

I wasn’t disgusted by it. (Well, most of it, anyway…) I didn’t have a moral objection to it. But I wasn’t all that excited by it, either.  Yes, I would sometimes get aroused, but more often than not, I’d become distracted by poor staging or unrealistic activities and lose the arousal before I could really put it to good use.  (Yes, I’d get aroused.  Arousal is not the same as attraction.  I’d get aroused because, well, it’s sex, and some part of my brain knows that sex thoughts should produce an erection because sex thoughts may be followed by sex.  Plus, being the owner of one of the sets of equipment shown in the videos, I knew that some of the activities would be pleasant, so a signal would get sent downstairs to prepare it for those sorts of pleasant activities.)

Sometimes I’d pause the videos and look in the background to see what books or movies or games they had on a shelf, or to figure out what city was in the background out the window.  Little mysteries like that were often far more entertaining than the repetitive in-out-in-out mechanics in the foreground.

At first, I just thought that I hit a bad batch.  Like maybe everything I looked at just wasn’t all that good.  There were a few pictures of “cute” girls that were nice to look at, but I didn’t find any “hot” girls that I’d like to have my way with.  That’s what porn is supposed to be all about, right?  So I went exploring.  Surely there was something out there I’d like.

Maybe I’d like blondes.
Maybe I’d like brunettes.
Maybe I’d like black women.
Maybe I’d like Asians.
Maybe I’d like redheads.
Maybe I’d like skinny girls.
Maybe I’d like fat girls.
Maybe I’d like goths.
Maybe I’d like S&M.
Maybe I’d like grannies.
Maybe I’d like nannies.
Maybe I’d like shaved.
Maybe I’d like natural.
Maybe I’d like cheerleaders.
Maybe I’d like lesbians.
Maybe I’d like gay men.
Maybe I’d like two on one.
Maybe I’d like three on one.
Maybe I’d like big breasts.
Maybe I’d like flat chests.
Maybe I’d…  Maybe…

Maybe not.

I went through just about every permutation, combination, variation, deviation and perversion that’s on the Internet and virtually none of it appealed to me in any way.  (Well, okay, there was a bit of aesthetic attraction toward the redheads, but other than that…)  The vast majority of it was dull and boring. The more it turned to stereotypical “porno movie with porn stars” (You know, the “Did you order a pizza, ma’am?” variety), the less appealing it became.

That bothered me.  I was supposed to like it, right?  I mean, I was supposed to have a primal reaction.  There were supposed to be urges and all that.  Everyone else got all excited by it and talked at length about all the hammering, nailing, screwing, and various other assorted construction-related metaphors that they fantasized about doing with this porn star or that porn star.  All I got was a feeling that I’d wasted my time and money.

It wasn’t until I discovered that I was asexual that I realized what was going on.  It wasn’t that I just hadn’t found some narrow subniche that would do it for me, it wasn’t that I’m just picky, it’s that nothing would really do it for me, ever.  Porn would never trigger the emotional reaction in me that it did in other people.  Where other people saw a stream of fantasies and desires, I saw a poorly filmed video of mostly naked people doing things to each other that neither one really seemed to be interested in being a part of.

Now that I know I’m ace, I’ve gone back to look at porn from time to time.  I’ve realized that the stuff that I do find interesting is almost always well-lit, well-framed, in-focus, it has a pleasing array of colors and shapes, and the people in the shot generally seem to be willing and engaged.  In other words, it seems to be far more important to me that the picture be a good photograph in general, rather than necessarily be erotic or revealing or whatever.

So, in conclusion, what I guess I’m really trying to say here is:  If you happen to make homemade porn videos, buy a bright light and a tripod and smile once in a while.  Seriously.

An Asexual on Sex

A quick note before I begin: To all the asexuals out there: It’s okay to be a virgin and it’s fine to not be a virgin. It’s okay to be curious about sex and it’s fine to not be interested in it at all. It’s okay to enjoy sex and it’s fine to dislike it. It’s okay to not want to experience sexual pleasure and it’s fine if you want to orgasm by yourself or with someone else. It’s okay to have sex and it’s fine to not have sex. Your experience may be different than mine, and it doesn’t mean that you’re wrong or your broken. It just means that you’re not me, and we’re each walking the path of our own lives.

All asexuals are virgins, right?

No, we’re not all virgins. Some of us are virgins. Some of us have had sex a few times (I’m in this group). And some of us have had a regular sexual relationship with a partner (or multiple partners).

How can you be asexual and have had sex?

Asexuality is a sexual orientation, just like heterosexuality or homosexuality. Sexual orientations are not defined by who you’ve had sex with throughout your lifetime, they’re defined by who you’re sexually attracted to. Think of it this way: A heterosexual male is heterosexual because he’s sexually attracted to women, even if he’s still a virgin and hasn’t had sex with any women. And if there’s that one night in college where he was young and confused and really really drunk and he went a little bit too far with that guy from the party because it seemed like a good idea at the time, that doesn’t make him gay or bi, because his sexual orientation is defined by his attraction, not his youthful indiscretions.

An asexual who has had sex simply isn’t sexually attracted to the person they’ve had sex with.

But, um, how can you be asexual and have had sex? I mean, physically?

Physically, there is no inherent difference between an asexual person and someone who is not asexual. We’ve got the same parts and pieces in the same arrangement and angles as everyone else, and they’ll work the same way, too. The only difference is emotional: Who we feel an urge to use those parts and pieces with. A heterosexual person wants to use them with someone with different parts and pieces, a homosexual wants to use them with someone with matching parts and pieces, a bisexual or pansexual doesn’t really care, and an asexual doesn’t really feel an urge to use them with anyone else.

Asexual males can get erect and ejaculate, and the sperm is normal human male sperm, it’s not some sort of magic sperm that can grow into a clone of the father on its own under the right conditions.

Asexual females can get wet and engorged and can get pregnant, and a pregnancy requires a male contrubution, they’re not capable of parthenogenesis.

Asexuals of any sex are capable of orgasm.

So, uh, asexual women having sex, that I get. “Lie back and think of England” and all that. They don’t have to do anything. But asexual men… How does that work?

Blood fills the spongy tissue of the penis, causing an erection, and the erect penis is-

I know how it works, but how does that happen?

You mean, how can an asexual man get an erection without being sexually attracted to the person they’re with?

Yeah, what’s the deal with that?

Obviously, the ability to achieve erection and not be sexually attracted to the person the erection will be used with is not an isolated feature unique to asexuals. There are plenty of examples of gay men who have fathered children through natural insemination. There are also plenty of examples of men (gay, straight, or otherwise) who’ve left the bar at last call with whoever was willing to join them. A man clearly does not have to be sexually attracted to someone to be able to have sex with them.

I can only speak for myself here, as I’ve never run a survey of non-virgin asexual males regarding erectile capacity during intercourse, but here goes. Even though I’m not sexually attracted to anyone, my body can and does respond to sexual situations. It’s like downstairs says “Oh, hey, SEX! I know what that is. I’ll go get ready in case you need me.” It’ll react that way to some sex scenes in movies, or to porn, or to knowing that you and your girlfriend had planned on having sex for about a month and now she’s getting into bed with you. It may be a Pavlovian response, where I know that the situation may have the reward of sexual pleasure, so my body gets prepared. Additionally, an erection can be caused by physical stimulation, regardless of the source of that stimulation. Many men have gotten erections from tight underwear, loose underwear, driving on bumpy roads or getting a physical at the doctor, and none of those things are generally targets of sexual attraction. When I had sex, there was a decent period of touching and caressing prior to starting intercourse, all of which was arousing. In fact, immediately after putting on the condom, I required a bit of direct stimulation to make the erection usable.

Some people confuse an getting an erection with sexual attraction. It is very important to note that they are not the same thing. Certainly, an erection can be the result of sexual attraction, but there are many other ways to get one (Like the physical stimulation mentioned above), and most of those other ways will work the same way on an asexual’s penis as on a non-asexual’s penis. Hell, when I was in the 7th grade, I used to get an erection every day in math class. Now, I like math and all, but I don’t like it that much. Sometimes erections just happen and there’s no reason for it.

Oh, and, don’t forget: Despite what President Clinton may have claimed, sex doesn’t necessarily require a penis to be placed within a vagina. So it doesn’t require a functional penis to be involved. It doesn’t even require a penis at all. Hands, mouths, and various devices and implements that may or may not be battery-operated can all be used during sexual activity.

Why bother? I mean, if you hate sex, what’s the point?

As I noted in an earlier post, views on sex vary widely among asexuals. Many asexuals do not hate sex. There are many reasons that an asexual person might have sex. These reasons include (but are not necessarily limited to):

  • To please their partner.
  • Because they’ve been told, “Try it, you’ll like it”.
  • To satisfy their libido.
  • Because they’re bored.
  • To find out what its like.
  • Because they want children.
  • To “fit in” with other people.
  • Because it feels good.
  • Because they want to.

I had sex because my girlfriend at the time wanted to have sex with me. She knew that I wasn’t all that interested in sex, but we figured that it was worth a shot because maybe I’d become more interested in it if I experienced it. Of course, I did want to know what it was like, since sex is supposed to be this super-amazing, mind-blowing, life-altering thing that everyone else seems to be relentlessly chasing. Something like that’s gotta be good, right? But most importantly, I did it because I wanted to do it. No amount of begging and pleading would’ve gotten me to do anything if I didn’t want to do it (Anyone who’s tried to get me to eat Thai food knows that). In the end, I wasn’t terribly impressed. It was okay, I guess, but nothing to get all worked up over. It just wasn’t my bag.

What do you do when you have sex?

You know all the different things non-asexuals might do that they’d consider to be sex? Yeah, asexuals might do any of those. It’s not like there’s some ace code of conduct that says asexual women must lie passively and asexual men must thrust in the missionary position and any deviations from these standards are punishable by no cake for a month. During sex, asexual people, regardless of gender, can be as active or as passive as they want to be, and engage in activities ranging from dull to kinky.

But can you feel anything?

We can. Nothing about asexuality prevents an asexual person from experiencing physical sexual pleasure, whether that pleasure comes from a kiss on the cheek or genital stimulation. An orgasm in an asexual is no different than an orgasm in someone who isn’t. Sexual response will vary from individual to individual, just like among non-asexual people. Many asexuals who have had sex have never experienced an orgasm or may experience pain during intercourse (particularly women), however, you’ll find the same issues among non-asexual people, as well.

As for me, do I feel anything? Hoo-boy howdy yeah! Um, I mean, yes, I found the act of intercourse to be quite pleasurable physically.

None of this makes any sense to me. Asexuals having sex. “Asexual” means “not sexual”, so it’s not possible for an asexual to do sexual things. Are you sure you’re ace?

I don’t like the description of asexuality as “non-sexual” or “not sexual”, as I feel those terms carry the implication that an asexual person has no sexual ability or is incapable of doing anything of a sexual nature or is impotent. That’s simply not the case. Asexuality alone has no bearing on physical and physiological attributes and functions. I’ve got a penis and a pair of testicles. I can get erections. I can masturbate, lubricate and ejaculate. I can experience the intense physical pleasure of an orgasm. I can father a child. All the parts down below are present and functional, just like in any other healthy factory-original male. The only difference is that I don’t have any burning interest in using those parts with anyone else, because I’m asexual. Not having any interest doesn’t mean that I’m incapable of doing so.

What was sex like, from your point of view?

Somewhat analytical and disconnected. I was far more into trying to figure out what actions I was supposed to be taking at the various points in the process. Am I supposed to kiss the breast or caress it now? Is the clitoral stimulation too fast or too slow? I distinctly remember being bored at one point, wishing that my orgasm would arrive so that I could stop. It wasn’t the epitome of all life experiences, as I’d been led to believe. But at the same time, it felt good, both physically and emotionally. The whole process felt different and in some ways better than masturbation, the warmth and the varying pressure being notable examples. And I very much enjoyed sharing the experience with the woman that I loved at the time.

Interestingly enough, I have a record of some emails I sent to my partner on the subject in the days following our get togethers. They’re a monument to aceness. Instead of things like “Oh baby, you were so hot last night” and “I just got hard again thinking about what we did”, these mails are full of more practical issues, like the application of lubricant, discussion of technique, and talking about how I wasn’t expecting to be thirsty after sex. Anyway, here’s some quotes from those mails:

“Anyway, yes, I did enjoy it. It was different than I had imagined. It took a lot longer than I was expecting (Must’ve gotten caught up in the rhythm and forgotten to orgasm…). And it felt different, too. The way people always talk, I was expecting more of an electric explosion type of ‘WowWowWOWOW!’ sort of feeling the entire time. Sure, it was nice, but I don’t see why it gets people acting stupid and ruining their lives and such.”

“At the beginning, it wasn’t that much different from masturbation and was fairly dull and repetitive, almost ‘Is that all there is?’ “

“Touching there, kissing here, rubbing there… It doesn’t make much difference. It all feels pretty much the same to me. Stroking your breast does about as much for me as stroking your shoulder.”

“Anyway, I will be willing to do it again sometime. It meets with my approval.”

Your honor, I would like to submit these letters as Exhibit A for the proof of the existence of asexuality…

Um… Yeah. Wow. So, uh… What should I know if I, as a non-asexual person, want to have sex with an asexual?

As I wrote above, asexual people can have sex and still be asexual. There’s nothing physically preventing most of us from doing so. However, just because someone can physically have sex doesn’t mean they will want to. Many aces do not want to have sex. They may be repulsed, they may not be with the right person, it might not be the right time for them, or they may simply not want to. Even those who are willing to have sex are generally less into it and won’t do it as frequently as a non-asexual partner might prefer. Trying to coerce or pressure or guilt an asexual into having sex with you is an officially uncool thing to do. “No” means NO.

Sometimes aces will be willing to work out a compromise situation when they’re in a relationship with a non-asexual person, but it’s important that such a compromise come from a place of respect and that the compromise be honored by both parties. The single most important thing to remember when dealing with a sexual relationship with an asexual person is that you need to talk to them. Communication. Tell them your wants and needs and listen to their wants and needs. And talk. Don’t accuse and don’t demand. Also, not all asexual people will be willing to compromise.

Understand that an asexual person probably sees sex in a very different way than you do. You might see it as the supreme expression of love, joining of two souls into a single blissful passion. They may see it as the rubbing of genitals against each other for a half hour or so. They may not find you sexually attractive, but that’s not a personal rejection of you and there’s nothing you can do about it. It doesn’t mean they think you’re fat or ugly or horrible to be around or they don’t love you anymore. Their minds just don’t work that way. You will need to learn to accept that.

One thing I’ve seen happen again and again is that the asexual person will gradually become less and less willing to have sex. There can be many reasons for this, and it doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re falling out of love. They may have come to the realization that they can’t overcome their repulsion. They may have started feeling guilty that you’re clearly attracted to them and they can’t return the favor. They may be growing less and less comfortable in sexual situations. The novelty might be wearing off. Or they may simply not be as willing to do it anymore. You will never know what the reason is if you don’t talk to them about it.

And again, no means no. If someone doesn’t want to have sex with you, then they don’t want to have sex with you. It doesn’t matter that they’re asexual. It doesn’t matter if they’ve had sex before, even if that sex was with you. No means no.