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Orgasm Shouldn’t Be The Goal of Sex . . . But Should Orgasm Be Avoided?

by Kristen Mark

I’ve always been a proponent of avoiding goal-oriented sex, particularly when it comes to orgasm. When couples or individuals come to me asking questions that concern problems or dissatisfaction with orgasm, one of the first things I suggest is to shift focus from orgasm to the overall act of intimacy. Enjoy the moment, I say.

When I saw an ABC news segment this past July on Karezza, I was intrigued. But when I received a handful of separate emails in the past few months asking me about Karezza, I was motivated tofind out more.

Karezza, a word that may seem like the latest technique in sex therapy, is actually a word that dates back to 1896. The word Karezza is derived from the Italian word for “caress”, and was first coined by Alice B. Stockham, M.D.. In Dr. Stockham’s book on the topic, she writes that Karezza “makes a plea for a better birthright for the child, and aims to lead individuals to seek a higher development for themselves through most sacred relations.” Obviously a lot has changed since 1896 when it comes to sex, relationships, and society. Dr. Stockham’s book discusses how sex should be about connecting to another’s soul, a lot of which really reminded me of the practice of tantric sex. The other seminal book on the topic was published in 1931 by John William Lloyd where he defines Karezza as “controlled non-seminal intercourse”.

Karezza is a technique of gentle intercourse where orgasms are discouraged due to their neurochemical effects that leave one exhausted, rather than rejuvenated. The levels of dopamine rise in anticipation for sex and then plummet after sex resulting in the “I’m done here” feeling. It is what scientists refer to as The Coolidge Effect in males (it has not, to my knowledge, been applied to females) where males express a renewed sexual interest in a novel female after satiation with a familiar female.

So by cutting out the dopamine high, couples are thought to avoid the “hangover” that comes after an orgasm and not have the same satiation factor with a familiar partner. However, thinking of sex and relationships in a vacuum of neurochemicals, independent of their context, may not be ideal.

There is a large body of recent research that supports the interconnected nature of sexual and relationship satisfaction. Additionally,recent research has found that the most important predictor of sexual enjoyment for women was orgasm, and the odds of reporting enjoyment were five to six times higher if orgasm was experienced.

Certainly, satisfaction can be achieved by means other than orgasm, but why cut something out that provides pleasure? With how many barriers we have to pleasure and satisfaction as it is, specifically avoiding orgasm may not be an ideal solution. However, if you find that you’re very orgasm-centric in your approach to sex with your partner and you’re both looking to try something new, it might be an interesting alternative.

Also, feel free to check out another Psychology Today blogger’sperspective on Karezza.

Read more…

Filed in: News, Relationship & Family

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