Can Avoiding Orgasms Improve Your Sex Life?

photo via flickr

Yes, it’s a serious question. An ancient technique called karezzabased on the Italian word “carezza,” for caress — is coming back in vogue with therapists as a means for addressing more modern sex problems. Karezza refers to intercourse that eschews orgasms for both parties and focuses on attachment and affection. Serious devotees claim that it can overcome sex addiction, female sexual dysfunction, erectile dysfunction, and sexual boredom, and extend the honeymoon period of a relationship for, well, forever. Which sounds to us like a bit of a Sophie’s choice: would you be willing to give up orgasms — or, at least, intentional orgasms — for the rest of your life in order to have a permanently awesome sex life?

In theory, we totally get it. The term karezza was coined in 1896 by Dr. Alice Bunker Stockham, a Chicago OB and feminist who campaigned for birth control, a ban on corsets and sexual fulfillment for both genders. The idea was to achieve equality in bed — couples help each other to extend the plateau period indefinitely so that sexual pleasure can be experienced with none of the pesky post-orgasm hangover.

And take Darryl Keils, a 56-year-old furniture maker from Maine who was interviewed about his karezza sex life with his wife (they’ve been married 29 years and have been having karezza sex for the past eight years; their only orgasms during that time have been accidental): he describes conventional sex as “lick, pump, squirt, snore.” We’d like to give him the Golden Dildo Award for Feminist Husband just for that. He says his wife finally feels like an equal partner in the bedroom and that he never gets bored with sex. “The pleasure goes up another level,” he says. “You follow the sensation in your body, not the stimulation.”

But in practice…? Man, imagine getting all that equality and affection and connection and sensuality in the bedroom… and then turning the lights out without letting it lead to an orgasm? That sounds like torture, and not necessarily the exquisite kind. As one of Keils’ male friends said to him, “You want me to climb 10,000 feet up Mt. Everest and not get to the top?”

We’re not sexual extremists by anyone’s yardstick. That said, we could absolutely see how a temporary experiment with karezza could revitalize a flagging sex life. One therapist suggests trying it for three months, which sounds like a long time to us — but then again, in the grand scheme of decades of monogamous marriage, perhaps not. If you can think of it as just a different way to experiment in bed, maybe you could get off on it. Without getting off on it, of course.

• This post is a part of Sundance Channel’s SUNfiltered Blog
• Get the 
SUNfiltered RSS feed


Say Something

9 Comments on "Can Avoiding Orgasms Improve Your Sex Life?"


Mac
9 months 25 days ago

Are you kidding? I can understand it for women since apparently most of them don’t orgasm most of the time, at least according to what I read and hear. But for men?? What’s the point? The few times I’ve had sex/made love/other degrees of intimacy that I didn’t (couldn’t) orgasm (ejaculate) I was sick for hours with leftover icks the next day. NOT what I was seeking.
A woman who is aroused and sexually excited but can’t quite make it over the crest doesn’t really have anything to get rid of (expel). A man has swollen seminal vesicles and prostate and perhaps some backed-up pressure in other seminal glands. Either he sneaks off to jerk off or he hopes for a spontaneous emission (“wet dream”).
Old men who don’t have orgasms much or at all get pretty clogged-up plumbing. It sometimes has to be relieved by sticking a finger up his rectum and pressing on his prostate to squeeze coagulated semen gook out. There is some suspicion that anorgasm may be an important factor in prostate tumors and cancer. As far as I have been able to find out, nothing like this happens to women.
Women have other problems associated with non-use of organs, such as breast disorders and cancer from never bearing children or breastfeeding, uterine disorders and cancer associated with not bearing children or bearing the first one late in her fertile years, a few others of this sort.
But never or rarely orgasming doesn’t seem to do any actual physiological harm.
Is there anything in the medical literature that does associate female anorgasmia with physical disorders or disease?

Jeff
3 years 1 month ago

I just want to say that this is really fun. Don’t knock it til you try it.

Zorro
3 years 1 month ago

Articles like this are why reading relationship advice from women is a waste of time.

“Feminist Husband?” When did eunuch go out of style?

Skeptic
3 years 1 month ago

>>>>>Yes, it’s a serious question. An ancient technique called karezza — based on the Italian word “carezza,” for caress

In English it’s called “petting”.

Bob
3 years 1 month ago

I think this differs from Tantra because you eventually climax in Tantra. Which makes this… petting.