Archives of Sexual Behavior

, Volume 46, Issue 3, pp 619–627 | Cite as

Asexuality: Sexual Orientation, Paraphilia, Sexual Dysfunction, or None of the Above?

  • Lori A. BrottoEmail author
  • Morag Yule
Target Article


Although lack of sexual attraction was first quantified by Kinsey, large-scale and systematic research on the prevalence and correlates of asexuality has only emerged over the past decade. Several theories have been posited to account for the nature of asexuality. The goal of this review was to consider the evidence for whether asexuality is best classified as a psychiatric syndrome (or a symptom of one), a sexual dysfunction, or a paraphilia. Based on the available science, we believe there is not sufficient evidence to support the categorization of asexuality as a psychiatric condition (or symptom of one) or as a disorder of sexual desire. There is some evidence that a subset of self-identified asexuals have a paraphilia. We also considered evidence supporting the classification of asexuality as a unique sexual orientation. We conclude that asexuality is a heterogeneous entity that likely meets conditions for a sexual orientation, and that researchers should further explore evidence for such a categorization.


Asexuality Sexual orientation Paraphilia Sexual dysfunction 



The authors wish to thank Tony Bogaert for providing helpful comments on an earlier draft of this paper. We also wish to thank Paul Vasey and an anonymous reviewer for very valuable comments that have led to a strengthened paper.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Obstetrics and GynaecologyUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada

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