Do asexuals masturbate? It’s a fair question, given the lack of sexual attraction. So we combed through studies to explain their sexual behaviors and more.
Most of us live for the passions of romance, sexual satisfaction, and emotional connection. Asexuals, on the other hand, are often overlooked.
We spend so much time talking about people who love sex; it’s time to talk about the people who don’t.
Some asexuals are romantic, and some are not, but all of them engage in little or no sexual activity. They don’t experience sexual desire toward people in the same ways that most do – but that doesn’t mean they have no sexuality at all.
Asexual or “ace” people are a unique sexual minority. We combed through studies, surveys, and articles to explain asexuals, their sexual behaviors, and more.
These ace facts highlight the best from our research:
- Over a quarter (25.1%) of asexuals have not “come out” – i.e., told someone else that they are asexual.
- One study found that 56% of asexuals masturbate at least monthly.
- 74% of asexuals say they experience romantic attraction.
- 40.2% of asexuals identify as aromantic with no reservations. Conversely, 34.3% identify as aromantic, but with some reservations.
- Most asexuals (65%) have never had sex.
- One survey found that 42.3% of asexuals feel indifferent about sex, while 55% are repulsed by it.
- Most asexuals (88.1%) do not identify as celibate.
Asexuality is not a mental disorder, sexual dysfunction, or paraphilia.
How Many People Are Asexual?
Until recently, asexuals haven’t been widely considered in sexuality studies. As a result, the numbers here are ballpark estimates.
These data points define asexuality and highlight its prevalence.
- Asexuality has been defined as never having felt sexual attraction to others. (The Journal of Sex Research, 2015)1
- A study of American gender and sexual minorities revealed that 1.66% were asexual. (Archives of Sexual Behavior, 2020a)2
- 7.1% of the U.S. population identifies as a gender or sexual minority (Gallup, 2022)3
- If the previous study is an accurate sample, an estimated 0.012% of the U.S. population is asexual.
- The same study found the following demographic information on asexuals: (Archives of Sexual Behavior, 2020a)2
- Gender identity
- Woman – 27.74%
- Man – 0.00%
- Non-binary/genderqueer – 72.26%
- Sex assigned at birth
- Female – 85.62%
- Male – 14.38%
- Age cohort
- 18 to 25 years old – 91.19%
- 34 to 41 years old – 6.05%
- 52 to 59 years old – 2.76%
- Gender identity
How Does Someone Know They’re Asexual?
Most people have a lot of questions when they first hear about asexuality. Are they attracted to anyone? How do they know they’re asexual?
Research gives us significant insight into how it feels to be asexual and how asexuals self-identify.
- Asexuals in one study were asked how they self-identified and gave the following answers: (Archives of Sexual Behavior, 2007)4
- “Now I can see that I experienced sexual things, but that doesn’t make me sexual. I have no interest in it. So I think to me, having an interest in sex is what makes you sexual, and you can be doing sexual things and not really be sexual, I think.”
- “I sort of consider myself asexual because I have no desire. There’s just no desire. I just really have no desire to go and have sex with someone. It’s just the furthest thing from my mind. It seems to me to be boring.”
- “I think people are probably biologically programmed to be interested, to have interest in sex, and it just comes naturally. … I think for most people it’s no problem to find a partner to engage in the act, but for somebody who’s asexual, they don’t have interest. They don’t know how to get involved in the act, so they remain sexually inactive. Basically, I think it’s the lack of sexual interest.”
Lack of sexual interest
- On average, asexuals identify themselves as asexual at age 18.7. (Asexual Visibility and Education Network, 2014)5
- Only three-quarters (74.9%) of asexuals have told another person about their asexuality; 25.1% of asexuals have not come out. (Asexual Visibility and Education Network, 2014)5
- Of those who had come out, they reported doing so, on average, at age 20.1.
Do Asexuals Masturbate?
If asexuals don’t like sex, do they masturbate? Asexuality is a spectrum that involves a wide range of sexual behaviors – some asexuals masturbate, others don’t.
Here’s what studies have found on asexual self-pleasure.
- 56% of asexuals in one study said they masturbated at least monthly. (The Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality, 2014)6
- In one study, asexuals gave the following reasons for masturbating: (Archives of Sexual Behavior, 2017a)7
- Sexual pleasure – 27%
- Relieve tension – 52%
- For fun – 32%
- I feel that I have to – 25%
- Other – 24%
- Sexual pleasure – 30%
- Relieve tension – 48%
- For fun – 20%
- I feel that I have to – 13%
- Other – 15%
Do Asexuals Fantasize?
Like masturbation, fantasies can also be common for asexuals. While many don’t experience fantasies, some do.
Here’s a look at the ways asexual fantasies might differ from other fantasies.
- One study found that 40% of asexuals never had a sexual fantasy. (The Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality, 2014)6
- Of other sexualities in the study, only between 1% and 8% had no sexual fantasies.
- Some asexuals had fantasies that didn’t involve other people at all; nearly all participants from other sexualities had fantasies involving other people. (The Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality, 2014)6
- One source interviewed asexuals on what turns them on: (Cosmopolitan, 2017)8
- Randomly/Over nothing
- “I do get aroused. I do have a fetish and get aroused by that. Besides that, I get aroused randomly and over nothing… No reason whatsoever. It is rarely over anything I see or do. I just get aroused randomly.“
- Certain situations
- “I can find situations arousing – like I do have kinks – but I never really cared about sex, and genitals do nothing for me.“
- “I do get ‘horny.’ Seems to be tied to my menstrual cycle, though, and isn’t really affected by seeing a hot guy or anything like that.“
- Sexual acts and sounds
- “I have a libido and am not aromantic. I actually just watch porn. I can’t really put myself into the shoes of any characters, and I don’t have any specific attraction to the characters, but the sexual act and sounds can stimulate my libido.“
- “If I masturbate, I get sexually aroused, but I’ve never fantasized about another person doing things to me or me doing things to other people. Masturbating feels more like a stress reliever and reaching a goal.“
- “I, personally, very much do get aroused, a stripping man or woman still turns me on, but once the boxers, panties, or whatever come off, I’m not interested in seeing them really.“
- Reading erotic materials
- “I do get aroused, usually from reading erotica or similar. I don’t feel the need to act on it, though.“
- “I can get turned on if I’m watching/reading porn that has a particularly hot scene or imagining someone else getting aroused.“
- Their own fetishes
- “I still masturbate, and I have my own little weird fetish that I don’t really want to get into.“
- Randomly/Over nothing
- A study of asexual fantasies asked ace men and women what they fantasize about: (Archives of Sexual Behavior, 2017a)7
- Asexual women are significantly more likely to fantasize about
- Fantasies that don’t involve me – 32.79%
- a fictional human character/not real people – 27.87%
- Asexual women are significantly less likely to fantasize about
- Group sex – 4.1%
- Public sex – 1.64%
- Sex with celebrity – 0.82%
- Asexual women are just as likely to fantasize about
- BDSM (including humiliation) – 32.79%
- Observing homosexual encounters – 16.39%
- Other – 16.39%
- Fetish (feeder, breeder, vore, feet, etc.) – 10.66%
- Rape fantasy/non-consent/erotic reluctance – 9.84%
- Sex toys – 8.2%
- Voyeurism – 8.2%
- Sex with power figure (e.g., teacher) – 5.74%
- Making out/foreplay – 5.74%
- Masturbation – 5.74%
- Sex while drugged/mind control/hypnosis – 4.1%
- Risky/forbidden sex – 4.1%
- Engaging in sexual activity as the other sex – 4.1%
- Involving older partners – 4.1%
- Transvestism/changing genders or genitalia/forced feminization – 3.28%
- Don’t involve sex with other people – 3.28%
- Pleasing a partner – 3.28%
- Fantasies aren’t sexually arousing (although they may be physically arousing) – 3.28%
- Sex in the context of a larger story – 3.28%
- Roleplay (furries, cosplay) – 2.46%
- Object-desire self-consciousness/teasing – 2.46%
- Incest – 2.46%
- Sex with stranger/anonymity – 2.46%
- Anal play/anal intercourse – 2.46%
- Sex with non-human creatures (not bestiality) – 2.46%
- Oral sex – 2.46%
- Rough sex (not BDSM) – 2.46%
- Sex with animals – 1.64%
- Sex with a friend – 0.82%
- Asexual men are significantly more likely to fantasize about
- Fantasies that don’t involve me – 18.52%
- A fictional human character/not real people – 11.11%
- Asexual men are significantly less likely to fantasize about
- Group sex – 3.7%
- Asexual men are just as likely to fantasize about
- Fetish (feeder, breeder, vore, feet, etc.) – 37.04%
- BDSM (including humiliation) – 14.81%
- Other – 14.81%
- Voyeurism – 14.81%
- Masturbation – 11.11%
- Transvestism/changing genders or genitalia/forced feminization – 11.11%
- Rape fantasy/non-consent/erotic reluctance – 7.41%
- Sex in the context of a larger story – 3.7%
- Don’t involve sex with other people – 3.7%
- Observing homosexual encounters – 3.7%
- Oral sex – 3.7%
- Risky/forbidden sex – 3.7%
- Anal play/anal intercourse – 3.7%
- Fictional human characters/not real people – 3.7%
- Engaging in sexual activity as the other sex – 3.7%
- Rough sex (not BDSM) – 3.7%
- Asexual women are significantly more likely to fantasize about
- Asexuals in one study reported the following sexual behaviors: (The Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality, 2014)6
- No masturbation or sexual fantasy – 20.2%
- Masturbation but no sexual fantasy – 19.4%
- Sexual fantasy but no masturbation – 10.5%
- Masturbation and sexual fantasy – 49.9%
- A 2017 study found the following data on asexual masturbation and fantasy: (Archives of Sexual Behavior, 2017a)7
- No masturbation or sexual fantasy – 16%
- Masturbation but no sexual fantasy – 19%
- Sexual fantasy but no masturbation – 14%
- Masturbation and sexual fantasy – 51%
- No masturbation or sexual fantasy – 6%
- Masturbation but no sexual fantasy – 15%
- Sexual fantasy but no masturbation – 4%
- Masturbation and sexual fantasy – 75%
Asexuals in the U.S.
An American study focused on how asexuals experience life differently due to their sexuality and found some unique trends.
Here’s a look at their data.
- The following percentages of asexuals in one study said they expected all asexuals to have experienced these events: (Archives of Sexual Behavior, 2007)4
- Psychological problems (e.g., physically abused, having no friends) – 15.6%
- History of negative sexual experience (e.g., sexual trauma, sex without pleasure) – 12.5%
- Experience no/low sexual desire – 37.5%
- Experience no/low sexual experience – 43.4%
- No different than anyone else – 31.2%
- Asexuals in the same study reported the following benefits of their sexuality: (Archives of Sexual Behavior, 2007)4
- Avoid intimate relationship problems (e.g., more meaningful relationships, less emotional pain) – 37.5%
- Lower health risks (e.g., no STI or pregnancy risks) – 59.4%
- Less social pressure (e.g., worry less about appearance, no pressure to pursue relationships) – 18.7%
- Benefits of free time (e.g., more relaxed, know yourself better) – 37.5%
- Asexuals reported the following drawbacks of their sexuality: (Archives of Sexual Behavior, 2007)4
- Partner relationship problems (e.g., can’t find a willing partner, partner unsatisfied with sex) – 37.5%
- Means that something is wrong (e.g., depressed, crazy, in need of help, hormone problem) – 56.2%
- Negative public perception (e.g., people will think they are lying or weird) – 28.1%
- Miss positive aspects of sex (e.g., never feeling that closeness, excitement of attraction) – 6.2%
Asexual Relationships – Romantic & Aromantic
No asexual is an island, and they often form connections and relationships just like everyone else. Some asexuals experience romance, while others are aromantic and don’t feel romantic attraction.
This data breaks down the differences between asexuals and aromantics.
- Asexuals may be attracted to a person of any sex; each asexual’s experience will differ and might include: (Medical News Today, 2021)9
- Falling in love
- Experiencing arousal
- Having orgasms
- Getting married
- Having children
- One asexual said, “Basically, I just enjoy being close to someone and spending time with them and doing things that make them happy. Not sexually….. Well, like, I like being touched and held, but I just don’t really want to do anything sexual, if that makes any sense. Like I desire to be held and like to cuddle and stuff but not to have sex.” (Archives of Sexual Behavior, 2009)10
- 74% of asexuals say they experience romantic attraction. (Archives of Sexual Behavior, 2020b)11
- Aromantic people feel little to no romantic attraction to others. (Cosmopolitan, 2022)12
- Asexuals experience little to no sexual attraction, while aromantics have the same experience with romance. Aromantic and asexual are both a spectrum of identities; some people are aromantic and asexual, but not all are. (Healthline, 2022)13
- 40.2% of asexuals identify as aromantic with no reservations. 34.3% identify as aromantic, but with some reservations. (Asexual Visibility and Education Network, 2014)5
- Romantic asexuals have more romantic and sexual partners than aromantic asexuals. (Archives of Sexual Behavior, 2020b)11
- Romantic asexuals reported an average of 1.7 romantic partners and 2.2 sexual partners.
- Aromantic asexuals reported an average of 0.7 romantic partners and 0.8 sexual partners.
- 20.4% of romantic asexuals said they were in a relationship.
- Only 3.6% of aromantic asexuals said they were in a relationship.
- 11.6% of romantic asexuals said they had sexual concerns.
- 6.7% of aromantic asexuals had sexual concerns.
Asexuals and Sexual Activity
Asexuals have little to no sex drive, but that doesn’t mean they never have sex. The most common reason for them to have sex is to please a partner, but there’s more to it than that.
The studies explain why an asexual might choose to have sex.
- Asexuals in one study discussed the following reasons for having sex, even if they weren’t interested in it. (Archives of Sexual Behavior, 2007)4
- “Umm, I was very curious about the opposite sex and having sex and stuff, things like that, when I was a teenager, but when it actually–in my 20’s, I never really, I didn’t find the act, I didn’t get any pleasure from the act.“
- “I mean, I was intellectually curious about sexuality. I was like, ‘Wait, shouldn’t I be experiencing sexuality?’ More like, like something like you should be experiencing, and I had no desire to do it, so I guess there was a time that I got a book …“
- In a Romantic Relationship
- “But I suppose if ever I got married to someone, I would sort of feel like, I want to sort of learn how to ‘do’ sex because it may be beneficial for this person with me. I mean, like most people have an expectation of sex in a relationship, and so if I was really going to have a serious relationship with someone … they’re going to expect it.“
- “I think if the person is asexual, he or she might engage in the act; probably if he or she has a partner, they may feel obliged to engage in the act. They might pretend to be like everybody else. They might fear being different from others, I think. Even if the person is asexual, if necessary, they might engage in the act just for the sake, because the partner asked.“
- One study asked asexuals what gender their sexual partners in the last five years were: (Archives of Sexual Behavior, 2020a)2
- Cisgender women – 37.01% were attracted to cis women.
- Cisgender men – 26.85%
- Transgender women – 8.02%
- Transgender men – 8.02%
- Asexuals reported being somewhat or very attracted to the following genders: (Archives of Sexual Behavior, 2020a)2
- Cisgender women – 38.81% were attracted to cis women.
- Cisgender men – 36.04%
- Transgender women – 38.81%
- Transgender men – 33.63%
- 27% of asexuals in one study had engaged in sex, and all maintained that they still lacked sexual attractions. (Archives of Sexual Behavior, 2009)10
- Asexuals reported having sex for the following reasons: (Asexual Visibility and Education Network, 2014)5
- To please a partner – 75.5%
- Curiosity – 56.7%
- Social expectations – 40.8%
- I find it pleasurable – 36.1%
- To conceive a child – 3.8%
How Often Do Asexuals Have Sex?
Some asexuals never have sex, while others do so at varying levels of frequency. These studies and surveys show how often asexuals get laid and the factors that contribute to their sexual activity.
- 21.6% of asexuals say that their sex drive is nonexistent. (Asexual Visibility and Education Network, 2014)5
- A survey of gender and sexual minorities asked participants if they had had sex in the past five years: (Archives of Sexual Behavior, 2020a)2
- Asexual – 46.46% did not have sex in the past five years.
- Non-asexual LGB – 9.74%
- Non-asexual women – 10.05%
- Non-asexual men – 8.14%
- Non-asexual GQNB (genderqueer/non-binary) – 16.87%
- One survey found that the following percentages of asexuals are sexually active: (Asexual Visibility and Education Network, 2014)5
- Never had sex – 65%
- Currently sexually active – 12.4%
- Previously sexually active – 22.5%
- The average age for an asexual’s first sexual activity is 18.12. (Asexual Visibility and Education Network, 2014)5
- The median age is 18.
- Asexuals in one survey reported how often they had sex: (Asexual Visibility and Education Network, 2014)5
- Daily – 1.7%
- A few times a week – 15.6%
- Once every week – 16.8%
- 1-2 times a month – 30.4%
- 7-12 times a year – 12.7%
- 3-6 times a year – 12.1%
- 1-2 times a year or less – 10.7%
- The same survey asked asexuals how long it had been since their last sexual activity: (Asexual Visibility and Education Network, 2014)5
- Less than a year – 33.1%
- 1 to 5 years – 46.2%
- 5 to 10 years – 13.5%
- 10 to 15 years – 4.3%
- 15 to 20 years – 1.7%
- 20 to 25 years – 0.4%
- 25 to 30 years – 0.4%
- 30+ years – 0.4%
- Asexuals say these conditions may cause them to have sex: (Asexual Visibility and Education Network, 2014)5
- Until I feel like doing otherwise – 46.6% won’t have sex until they feel like doing otherwise.
- Permanently – 17.6%
- My sexual inactivity is not intentional – 12.1%
- Until I am in an appropriate relationship – 9.3%
- Undecided – 8.6%
- Until marriage – 3%
- Until another specific time in the future – 0.8%
- Asexuals have the following attitudes toward sex: (Asexual Visibility and Education Network, 2014)5
- Indifferent – 42.3% feel indifferent about sex.
- Favorable – 2.7%
- Repulsed – 55%
- 88.1% of asexuals don’t identify as “celibate.” They gave the following reasons why: (Asexual Visibility and Education Network, 2014)5
- I think celibacy suggests deliberate effort in not having sex – 70.8%
- I think ‘celibacy’ has strong religious connotations that don’t fit me – 42.1%
- I’m not currently sexually active but open to it, so I don’t think celibate would fit me – 32.7%
- I don’t think a person can be both asexual and celibate – 6.11%
- Asexuals who were worried about the normalcy of their sexuality said the following: (Archives of Sexual Behavior, 2007)4
- “I’ve actually wondered, like, is there something wrong with me? What is this business?“
- “I often wonder why I am the way I am now, and I think about not having married or not having a boyfriend or not seeing anybody. I find myself not really interested, but at the same time, I kind of worry for not being like everybody else, I guess.“
- “I feel that I should be normal, not that I do have a clear idea of what is normal … As for myself, I think I should seek out the opposite sex and be more involved in social life.“
- “I guess I’m wondering what other people are thinking and other people are feeling, and am I the only one who’s not doing this?“
- Researchers say asexuality is not a mental disorder, sexual dysfunction, or paraphilia. Evidence modestly supports asexuality as a unique sexual orientation. (Archives of Sexual Behavior, 2017b)14
- 58% of asexuals say that they have a sexuality. 78% say they would not change their orientation even if they could. (Asexual Visibility and Education Network, 2014)5
Asexuals are one of the most unique sexual minorities there are. The fact that they don’t feel sexual attraction to others can be confusing to people of other sexualities, and because of this, many asexuals don’t come out to family and friends.
On average, asexuals self-identify right around the time they become adults. Asexuality is a spectrum, and no two asexuals are the same. Roughly half of them masturbate – both men and women – for various reasons.
Asexual fantasies are typically less about genitalia/sex organs and more about situations, acts, or fetishes. Some of them report getting aroused at random, while others have
A large portion of people misunderstand asexuals or have no knowledge of them at all. This can make it difficult for them to have relationships and subject them to negative public perceptions.
Asexuals in some studies noted that feeling less obligated to pursue a relationship could be both positive and negative. However, many struggled with mental health problems because of how their sexual differences impacted their lives.
Human sexuality is a diverse and colorful spectrum, and asexuals are a unique part of it. Without traditional desire, they explore their sexualities on their own terms. Though less common, asexual’s lack of sexual attraction is just as natural as any other sexual orientation.
For more interesting sex studies and statistics, head over to our guide here.
- The Journal of Sex Research, 2015. A study on what asexuality is and why it matters to society.
- Archives of Sexual Behavior, 2020a. A study on the prevalence of asexuality in 1,523 American gender and sexual minorities.
- Gallup, 2022. An article on survey data showing the percentage of Americans who identify as LBGT+.
- Archives of Sexual Behavior, 2007. A study on the characteristics of asexuality using data from 1,146 Americans.
- Asexual Visibility and Education Network, 2014. A “census” survey of asexuals in the U.K. with input from 14,210 respondents.
- The Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality, 2014. A study on masturbation and sexual fantasies in 924 Canadian asexuals.
- Archives of Sexual Behavior, 2017a. A study on sexual fantasies and masturbation in 739 individuals of all sexual orientations.
- Cosmopolitan, 2017. An article on sexual arousal using interviews with 13 asexual individuals.
- Medical News Today, 2021. An article on the different aspects of asexuality and the spectrum of asexuality.
- Archives of Sexual Behavior, 2009. A study on the extent to which perceptions of asexuality exist in the asexual community.
- Archives of Sexual Behavior, 2020b. A study on asexual attractions using data from 4,032 asexuals across different studies.
- Cosmopolitan, 2022. An article on the various aspects of being aromantic and how to differentiate it from other similar terms.
- Healthline, 2022. A medically-reviewed article on the aspects of being aromantic and asexual.
- Archives of Sexual Behavior, 2017b. A study on whether asexuality is a sexual orientation, paraphilia, sexual dysfunction, or something else.