Karezza: Men Say Best Sex Comes Without Orgasm

PHOTO: Darryl and Annabelle Keil are practitioners of karezze. Married for 29 years, they attribute their intimate sex life to karezze -- lovemaking with out orgasm.
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Matt Cook hasn't had an orgasm in seven months, and he hopes never to intentionally have one again.

The 51-year-old publisher from Virginia isn't celibate. Happily married for 25 years, Cook said his sex life is more exciting than ever and giving up the goal-oriented climax has improved every aspect of his life.

Cook, the father of adult two sons, is a newcomer to karezza, a form of intercourse that emphasizes affection while staying far from the edge of orgasm. Climax is not the goal and ideally does not occur while making love.

"It creates a deep feeling in a relationship that is very difficult to describe -- much deeper than conventional sex," he said.

Cook is one of a growing number of men who have embraced karezza and have found it has helped heal their marriages, inject more spark into their sex lives and even shed porn addiction.

A recovering porn addict, Cook suffered from performance anxiety with girlfriends. Sex got better with his wife, but he didn't know how much until he discovered karezza.

Now, he has sex almost every day.

"It kind of never ends," said Cook. "Why would I want to give that up for a 15-second orgasm?"

Deb Feintech, a counselor from Portland, Maine, uses karezza to help couples repair their broken relationships.

"The people most interested are men," she said. "It's very radical for them, but they are finding the emotional intimacy far outweighs any of the thrill of the chase and the mating mind."

And Feintech said the practice is not just helpful for middle-aged couples struggling with the ennui of a long marriage, but for young couples headed to the altar.

"I offer this to them as something to try for a month or so," she said. "They wake up every single morning and they are not even thinking about genital stimulation. They are snuggling, holding and breathing with eye contact and flow. It's very conscious -- from the genitals to the heart."

It puts puts the emphasis on attachment, not climax.

The word karezza was coined by Dr. Alice Bunker Stockham, a Chicago obstetrician and early feminist who promoted birth control, a ban on corsets and sexual fulfillment for both genders. In 1896, she wrote a book by that name -- from the Italian word carezza, which means caress.

For strengthening marriages, she encouraged what was then called "male continence," although in the interest of equality, she asked that women abstain from orgasm, as well.

Marnia L. Robinson has carried the contemporary torch in her 2009 book, "Cupid's Poisoned Arrow," and on her website, Reuniting: Healing With Sexual Relationships.

"Even for those with the highest libidos, performance can become a grind and drive a craving for novelty," said Robinson. "Such feelings, although perfectly natural, can create projections and resentment that cause disharmony, especially after our temporary honeymoon neurochemistry wears off."

Technique is "virtually immaterial," she says. "It's a practice about not doing, about getting your goal-driven mammalian mating system out of the way long enough to fall into a state of relaxed union."

A former corporate lawyer and now a devotee, Robinson argues that karezza's power is rooted in neuroscience.

"Orgasm really isn't in our genitals, but actually between our ears," she said.

In the "passion cycle of orgasm," the hormone dopamine rises in anticipation of sex, then crashes after orgasm, creating a biochemical "hangover," according to Robinson.

In men, that happens almost immediately after ejaculation; for women, it can be two weeks before the brain returns to homeostasis, according to Robinson.

"Karezza turned out to be an enjoyable way to tiptoe around biology's agenda," she said.

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