A growing number of men and women are giving up conventional, climax-oriented intercourse for a different type of lovemaking.
Karezza, which is derived from the Italian word carezza, meaning caress, stays far from the edge of orgasm, instead putting the emphasis on attachment and affection, not climax.
Many couples are finding that the technique of karezza has helped heal their marriages, inject more spark into their sex lives, shed porn addiction and even cure sexual dysfunction.
The word karezza was coined in 1896 byDr Alice Bunker Stockham, a Chicago obstetrician and feminist who campaigned for birth control, a ban on corsets and sexual fulfilment for both men and women.
For strengthening marriages, Stockholm encouraged “male continence”, although she encouraged women to abstain from orgasm as well, in the interest of equality.
Lauded by doctors and Americans alike, karezza is beginning to be seen as a natural alternative to Viagra, and possibly a cure for sexual dysfunction, or lack of desire, in women.
Deb Feintech, a counsellor from Portland, Maine, says she often uses karezza to help couples repair their broken relationships.
She explained to ABC News: “The people most interested are men. 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.”
She added that the practice was not just helpful for middle-aged couples struggling with the boredom of a long marriage, but also for young couples headed to the altar.
She said: “I offer this to them as something to try for a month or so. 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.”
Exploring the connections between sexual behavior, neurochemistry and relationship harmony, doctors have found that 80 different regions of the brain reach their maximum activity during orgasm.
This overstimulation of the pleasure receptors can desensitise the brain to pleasure or create a craving for more, leading to unhealthy cravings and an imbalance in the brain’s harmony.
Marnia L Robinson, author of Cupid’s Poisoned Arrow and the website, Reuniting: Healing With Sexual Relationships, is a devotee of karezza, and says when men are addicted to pornography or have frequent orgasms, “no amount of pleasure can satisfy”.
“We are always looking for something novel,” she added.
But in karezza, lovemaking has no finish line, so sexual energy continues to flow, which advocates say helps to prevent boredom with a partner.
Through bonding behaviour and relaxation, karezza, which discourages conventional foreplay of oral sex, also encourages the brain to release the “love” hormone ocytocin.
Researchers have found the only other event that affects the brain as intensely as orgasm is an epileptic seizure, causing doctors to conclude that when it comes to sexual dysfunction in women, clinical trials so far have been attacking the wrong organ.
Robinson agrees, believing the orgasm’s power is rooted in neuroscience.
“Even for those with the highest libidos, performance can become a grind and drive a craving for novelty,” she explained.
“Such feelings, although perfectly natural, can create projections and resentment that cause disharmony, especially after our temporary honeymoon neurochemistry wears off.”
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.
She explained that in men, this hangover happened almost immediately after ejaculation; for women, it could be two weeks before the brain returned to its equilibrium.
Darryl Keil, a 56-year-old furniture maker from Maine, has been married to his wife Annabelle for 29 years.
For the last eight years neither one has had an intentional orgasm.
He says that conventional sex, and its “lick, pump, squirt, snore”, is a purely man-driven act.
Now, he says his wife feels she is an equal partner in the bedroom.
They are having sex every day, “and it’s not boring”, assures Keil.
“It’s really alive, great sex with great feeling. The pleasure goes up another level… You follow the sensation in your body, not the stimulation.”
He added that many of the men he spoke to who had never heard of karezza looked at him as if he were a “freak of nature”.
He said: “It’s just hard to get men to want to skip orgasms. One guy said to me, you want me to climb 10 000 feet up Mount Everest and not get to the top?”
Like others, the Keils say they experience occasional orgasms “accidentally”, but karezza guru Robinson said it did not violate any rules.
She explained: “I have orgasms and it’s no big deal – gentle lovemaking sometimes slips over the edges and that’s nice.” – Daily Mail
KAREZZA DEFINED: GUIDELINES FOR BONDING BEHAVIOURS IN NO-CLIMAX INTERCOURSE
lSmiling, with eye contact
lProviding a service or treat without being asked
lGazing into each others’ eyes for several moments
lListening intently, and restating what you hear
lKissing with lips and tongues
lCradling, or gently rocking, your partner’s head and torso
lHolding, or spooning, each other in stillness for at least 20 minutes to half an hour
lWordless sounds of contentment and pleasure
lStroking, hugging and massaging with intent to comfort, rather than gain something
lLying with your ear over your partner’s heart and listening to his or her heartbeat for several moments
lTouching and sucking of nipples/breasts
lGently placing your palm over your lover’s genitals with intent to comfort
lMaking time together at bedtime a priority, even if one partner has to get up and work on something afterwards