Is My Asexuality Me or My RA?
Disclaimer: Hi, I’m Monica and you’re going to learn about my sex life! Lots of TMI ahead!
I’m just going to say it: I don’t like sex.
I have it because it’s a pretty good anti-inflammatory but, if I never had sex again, I wouldn't be upset. Here’s the thing, though: I don’t know if I don’t like it because I don’t like it or if it’s because of my rheumatoid arthritis!
Physical intimacy and asexuality
I am not a touchy-feely person to begin with. I never have been. If you want to know if I’m lying just look at my pets; they don’t like to be touched, either. I don't mind hugs, handshakes, etc but I would prefer no contact. My personal space bubble is 5 feet in diameter and airtight. The big thing about sex is I kind of have to touch another person and them me. I can't avoid it. Do you see the problem?
Leaning towards being asexual
I might be asexual. I lean towards asexuality because I don’t believe I have to be physical to be affectionate (granted, I’m not affectionate by nature but that’s a whole different can of worms).
I identify as asexual.
That sounds pretty open and shut, right? I wish.
Asexuality in the context of rheumatoid arthritis
I didn’t become sexually active until well into my diagnosis, so I couldn’t tell you whether I’ve always not enjoyed sex. Coitus is hard if you have RA. It can be painful, obviously. It can be awkward if I am dealing with stiffness.
And sometimes I flare because those anti-inflammatory benefits don’t kick in immediately for me. Why would I want to do something that causes me more discomfort?? Did I condition myself long before I started, not to enjoy it?
Lowered sex drive due to RA medications
Let’s go a little deeper (no pun intended). I was already on steroids, methotrexate, and pain medication for years before I became sexually active. These medications could cause lower sex drive which means I don't want to have sex. (Funny story: I only found this out because my father sent me articles on the subject. My father and I have a very open relationship but we never talk about sex. I’m still not adult enough for THOSE conversations!). Did I not want to have sex because I just didn't feel like it?
Because of these considerations, am I truly asexual?
The answer to all three questions is 'I just don’t know.' My best friends don’t find it at all surprising that I don’t like having sex. I wouldn’t even be surprised if I identify that way because of my personality and how I feel about physical intimacy. But, these questions always haunt me because I can't really know, can I?
Do I have to label myself as asexual?
Does it matter how I identify? Do I have to have a label? If I have sex, okay. If I don't, who cares. When it comes down to it, I have to do what's best for my body, my mind and my RA. Will sex help me or hinder me? I should ask that question instead, right?
So now that we’re so well acquainted, I invite you to share your thoughts on my sex life! Do you think I’m actually asexual or is it a product of my condition? What about you? Has your idea of sexuality/sex changed with your diagnosis? Let me know in the comments!
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