Autism and sexual desire

I wondered wether there’s something in being on the autism spectrum and having reduced sexual desire-not come across anything in my reading yet so wondered what people’s experiences are? Oh and asking as a woman too. Thanks

Parents
  • There is conflicting research in this area. Some studies suggest autistic men are more likely to experience enhanced sexual desire compared to neurotypical men (using frequency of masterbation as a proxy for libido) and that for women sexual desire is about the same as neurotypicals but less often translates into a desire for sex. 10.31887/DCNS.2017.19.4/dschoettle Other studies suggest autistic people have on average less sexual desire but are more likely to experience the extremes of high or low sexual desire than neurotypicals. 10.1371/journal.pone.0087961

    One study in particular suggests autistic men experience above neurotypical sexual desire and autistic women experience below neurotypical sexual desire 10.1007/s10803-019-04204-9 (behind a pay wall) However this study also reports that 44% of the autistic women in the study self identified as lesbian (much higher than the 1st study and higher than their neurotypical control). The mean age of participants was in the early 20s and recruitment was by internet adverts and ‘word of mouth.’ In short I’m not convinced their sample was representative.

    More generally I’m really wary of past attempts to characterise autistic people as asexual. It’s been used to infantilise autistic people before. It also creates problems for autistic people who are highly sexual. People may erroneously assert ‘well you’re too sexual to be autistic.’ Or say ’you can’t be autistic people you have a girlfriend / boyfriend or because you go around having casual sex.’ etc. Autistic people are hugely diverse and the one thing I think I can assert is we often tend to gravitate to extremes. So I find the 2nd studies finding that autistic people are more likely to be much more or much less interested in sex to be the one that rings truest to me and my personal experience.

  • I used to edit a magazine for alternative lifestyles - the thing I noticed with high-functioning auties and aspies is 'there are no limits'.    If you can think of it, and it's fun, and everyone enjoys the experience, then why not?    Lots of 'exploring the limits of sensation' stuff.

  • I've met people at both ends of the spectrum (no pun intended). Some autistic people who say 'ew bodily fluids creep me out so the idea of sex is imposable for me' through to girls who'd say things like 'yes I've slept with 5 men at the same time? So what? I had fun, everyone involved was ok with it. Will probably do it again next week.' The irony is with the former people find perfectly acceptable but with the latter they start talking about whether people need protecting from themselves. It's that sort of patronising attitude I find distasteful.

Reply
  • I've met people at both ends of the spectrum (no pun intended). Some autistic people who say 'ew bodily fluids creep me out so the idea of sex is imposable for me' through to girls who'd say things like 'yes I've slept with 5 men at the same time? So what? I had fun, everyone involved was ok with it. Will probably do it again next week.' The irony is with the former people find perfectly acceptable but with the latter they start talking about whether people need protecting from themselves. It's that sort of patronising attitude I find distasteful.

Children
  • I think the Victorians really screwed up a lot of the social things and sex was the biggest one - the prudish, repressed and inhibited attitudes still hang around today - even though we've been through the 'swinging 60s'.

  • That was because Peep Shows and Decadence were rife in that era.

  • I've met people at both ends of the spectrum (no pun intended).

    Whats the pun?

  • Agree but when I think about it, I actually did need some protection - well, of sorts, as I was clearly on a downward spiral whilst thinking I was having a great time and needed more of it.  Still, i didn't know that I was autistic and probably quite vulnerable too.  I didn't understand why it wasn't necessarily a good thing to get drunk then proposition someone at the bar.  I don't remember receiving any education on this but it was maybe perhaps included amongst all the other things that were supposed to be "obvious".    I do remember receiving lots of hate and judement though.  :(

  • well I was referring to the sexual spectrum as opposed to the autistic spectrum

  • Yeah, the judbements bs. I too went through this....hey, women have wild oats they have to sew too.

  • Exactly.  I still look back and wish I'd managed it all more safely though.  I was at risk and completely oblivious to that.   Plus, quite apart from wild oats it was also about stimming, feeling accepted (though preferably adored!) and somehow cancelling out the effects of bullying and rejection earlier in my teenage years.  I had thought I was completely undesirable as a result of this bullying and it turned out I wasn't. 

  • Forgive me if i'm being overly inquisitive. If I am just say so. But if you magically found you'd become a 16 y/o again with all a 16 y/os hormones you'd do it all over? Just maybe more cautiously?

  • I think it kind of needs to be known.  Perhaps I'm a cautionary tale?  I'd certainly do some of it.  Some of it was giddying, elating, esteem boosting and enjoyable.  But I'd be open and honest about it, with myself as well as others (who might have thought this was the beginning of a proper relationship), I'd use barrier methods of contraception, I'd try not to go too far fuelled by alcohol, I'd discover cannabis edibles much sooner in life and use these instead of alcohol, I'd realise that I'm autistic and what this meant for me and my relationships and I'd cotton on to what was the mask and what was me. 

    There are maybe too many "ifs" there.  Some of the things I'd did were best left in the imagination, I think.  It doesn't do to go around acting out scenes from your favourite films in some kind of delirious fantasy enactment which is very open to misinterpretation and severe judgement by others.