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Many women believe that if they aren’t easily having orgasm, they are flawed. In part this is because for forty years the American Psychiatric Association’s diagnostic manual, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), has defined a lack of spontaneous sexual desire in women as “hypoactive sexual desire disorder.” (Thanks to the work of Canadian doctor Rosemary Basson, the APA is scheduled to rethink this diagnosis in 2010.) It has also diagnosed men with “retarded ejaculation” has having a pathology. In both cases, the patients’ instincts may be sounder than the prevailing dogma. As long as neurotic fear of sex is not at work, loving intercourse without the goal of orgasm appears to offer unacknowledged gifts.

Forcing orgasm may not be the best way to increase sexual receptivity and responsiveness. Some people find that as they forgive old resentments toward the other sex, their sexual responsiveness naturally begins to flow more easily. (Forgiveness is not a matter of condoning bad behavior. It is a matter of accepting that all of us are like hands of the same body. We are equally prone to error when out of balance, and equally entitled to forgiveness—and healing—when we behave like nitwits due to the search for shortsighted gratification.)

Some people also find that they grow more responsive as their partners regain their balance and feel calmer and more like themselves.

Probably the ability to open up to our ecstatic selves as women (whether or not that leads to vaginal orgasm) is dependent on some kind of emotional clearing, though the exact flavor of that emotion may be different for each woman.—Natasha

In my experience, when I put my attention on my partner’s wellbeing in the bedroom (and stopped pursuing orgasm), I became even more orgasmic. Other women have experienced this, too. This is a mixed blessing. Increased sensitivity means the gentle intercourse of karezza feels like plenty of stimulation, or even too much. On the upside, stillness can be a surprisingly powerful experience.

In retrospect, I doubt if forcing yourself to learn conventional orgasm is beneficial for success with karezza. Orgasm is habit-forming. The more orgasm you have, the easier it is to activate that familiar brain pathway and slide toward using sex to seek one’s own stimulation—rather fall into an experience of mutual melting.

It seems part of the identity I have formed for myself that I very much cherish is that of a sexually voracious woman whose appetite is as large if not larger than a man's. In a partnership defined primarily by hot sex, it is easy to get into a hot-and heavy pattern that compliments one's idea of oneself as a sexual powerhouse.
But my current partnership, where we are experimenting with karezza, is very different, containing many other levels of connection and potential. So, sex is not the dominant theme here. I am glad that I have been honest in listening to my body and not going forward with sex except when it feels right, even if that meant the discomfort of abandoning my idea of myself as sexually charged.—Allison

Healing the current alienation between the sexes calls for both sexes’ full, loving participation, with no major energy constrictions. Yet the process of dissolving constrictions can be gentle and gradual, if both partners are willing to employ bonding behaviors and karezza.

The bums!

There's a lot of pressure now among academics to stop the "ownership" of articles in journals. Harvard has apparently forbidden it's faculty to publish in journals that sell access to published research...in an effort to squelch them...and thus keep research public, and available to all. But most academics are so desperate to publish that they will publish anywhere, under any conditions, so they keep the problem going. Your public library may have access to the article for free, and ours lets us access the ones they have purchased online.

I can't remember what this item was about. Here's some of Basson's research. She's the Canadian doctor who's trying to get the shrinks to define sexual dysfunction for women differently, so women aren't considered pathological if they aren't orgasming at the drop of their panties.

http://www.cmaj.ca/cgi/content/abstract/172/10/1327

anorgasmia in males ?

hello there,
i hope i am asking in the right section.
i am a male with quite a bundle of 'stuff' (issues, drives, contradictions, thoughts etc). i am not sure if one is allowed (or it too selfish) here to ask for such therapeutic advice but, i have never really found out much material related to male anorgasmia. in my definition i mean the ability (for want of a better word) to ejaculate but without the pleasant sensation of orgasm. i do not mean pre-mature ejaculation, but male ejaculation with no accompanying orgasm in genitals or full body.

when i very first masturbated as a 12 yr old, there were some full body sensations & orgasm. quite soon ( a month or two ?) i would ejaculate but with no consequent sensation of orgasm. just release from the physical tension, but no lovely warmth shooting through my body...semen but no shudder.
from what i remember there was /is no trauma or abuse just prior to this change of response. i was possibly masturbating over porn mags by then.

still after 30 years still the orgasms never came back - and i only remember having a few when i was able.
therapy and talking has produced possible reasons for the block but it all still remains 'idea'. no physical or real shift has happened in all that time.
i have been a bit lazy in listening to a relaxation cd that recognizes & says it can help male anorgasmia. and also i do get a nicer genital sensation in general if i dont use porn (which unfortunately i find very hard to do).
and making love has never 'given' me an orgasm either.. so metaphorically (in both solo masturbation and making love/fuck with a partner) i feel like i have lost the actual taste buds that make food enjoyable & tastable - the drive or the pay off isn't there.
So even though with your view we can see that the orgasm are payoffs are in diminishing returns, i still feel dissatisfied, hard done by and certainly no more enlightened on what course of action to take to open up more or at least to feel i have the choice as to wether i want to orgasm or not.

In the light of your information & perspective i do not know if in some way this lack of orgasm with accompanying ejaculation (i do not mean pre mature ejaculation) is still a curse or a blessing in disguise (excuse the dramatic terms).i suppose i still feel that unless i 'learn' to orgasm first i haven't even begun to be able to be open and capable of intimacy.

i suppose i am asking if you find truth & flaws in this reasoning.
and also i am asking

1- what leads and help is there i can get in being able to orgasm (if this is necessary)

or

2- should i just concentrate on other factors (self exploration? a relationship? or what ever).

either way i assume that my anorgasmia is a product of holding back or fear or guilt or maybe not at all- god knows what else ! i could be wrong could it be related to anything else ('purely' biological for eg?).

and my sexual /emotional relationships have always been short lived because i soon withdraw.

i realise that i may have said or asked perhaps too much here..or maybe not at all.
Maybe i just can not be very brief and clear with my written words at 5 in the morning !!

hope to hear from you

thanks

monk-ki

Welcome!

You, and your questions and comments are welcome here. We are all learning from each other.

It sounds like you are masturbating just to "release the tension". Do you get any pleasurable feelings from masturbating - perhaps just before ejaculating? Have you tried taking your time, spending maybe 5 minutes or more stroking yourself before ejaculating? Have you tried relaxing your PC muscles to try to avoid or postpone ejaculation? (I have found that relaxing the PC muscles and trying to avoid ejaculation gives me a great deal of pleasant sensations. It's like relaxing the diaphragm to try to stop hiccups.)

Have you tried becoming abstinent (giving up the porn and masturbation)? I can tell you from my own experience that the tension, the horniness, the urge to masturbate goes away gradually over a few weeks time. I've been masturbation and orgasm-free for seven months now, and I no longer have any urge to masturbate or have an orgasm.

I can understand your interest in regaining the ability to have an orgasm. I think it's possible that after a couple months of abstinence, you might regain some lost sensitivity and be able to have orgasms again, if you want. Might be worth a try. Good luck! Smile

Book

I just read a book "The Science of Orgasm" by Komisaruk, Beyer-Flores & Whipple. They talk about anorgasmia albeit in a different light (very technical) than you'll find here. They address physical/chemical issues that can lead to the condition.

Karezza

Well, now that you know of karezza, this "curse" might be a blessing in disguise, as you speculate. Maybe try karezza with your next girlfriend, and it might be so wonderful you won't miss orgasm at all. Or it might help the anorgasmia even. Did you withdraw in relationships because of the anorgasmia or another reason?

withdrawal in relationships / male anorgasmia

[quote=Tantra11]Well, now that you know of karezza, this "curse" might be a blessing in disguise, as you speculate. Maybe try karezza with your next girlfriend, and it might be so wonderful you won't miss orgasm at all. Or it might help the anorgasmia even. Did you withdraw in relationships because of the anorgasmia or another reason?[/quote]

hello Mr.T
thanks for your words. hopefully my lack of orgasm will either give way to them or something even better. the reasons for my emotional withdrawal i suppose are manifold. perhaps the biggest discovery is recent in that i always suffered a lack of 'fancying' then after a while. i cant quite track it always to post orgasm hangover but i think its a definite factor.

i'm not sure if i ever found one i want to be with, scare of commitment, pregnancy, loss of 'freedom', porn addiction, habit of solitude.
i used to think that perhaps the lack of orgasm either stopped me bonding with anyone and also cos there wasn't much of a pay off the hunger to pursue isn't there. i kind of now can see the fallacy of the former idea and the selfish hunger of the latter one.
and perhaps the karezza approach could solve a lot of these problems. i still am left wondering if i have to find someone that i really want to be with first of if that if just mind games & avoidance.

i must admit in so many ways i haven't changed from the wanking porn obsessed teenager i was of years ago. and i broke my week wank fast. once again on the seventh day. hopefully i wont use it as an excuse to keep trying. i saw myself having the choice and calmly went for the negative one. ..fuck !

Experiments

I hope you figure out the reason. I'm looking forward to following the story of your investigations into this. Do you know that in western mysticism the cycles of seven figure heavily? I never got much into Rosicrucia, but I had the opportunity to study some of their writings at one point. They said that the reason Friday the 13th is considered unlucky is because the number 6, the sixth day, is the day of crisis before completion of the 7 day cycle. So in an illness, it will (supposedly) often change dramatically, either for the better or the worse that day. Friday is the 6th day, and 13 is 7 (one full cycle) plus 6. That's why it's considered unlucky, but for those who understand, it's not unlucky so much as dangerous, with potential able to go one of both ways more easily. In that sense, it could be a lucky day if you know how to use it. Now, all that said, I don't know how much stock I put into these things, but it's interesting. Maybe the idea of a 7 day (or whatever... it applies to not just days but 7 of anything) cycle just helps people stay aware of cycles in general, where even if they break the 7 one, the person might notice that there was indeed a cyclical nature they'd have otherwise missed? I dunno. All I know is that studying such things is certain to be a grand adventure.

dear monk

You're not anorgasmic. If you are ejaculating, you are having orgasms. You just figured out a long time ago that orgasms aren't all they're cracked up to be, but you are such a conformist that you think it is you that is dysfunctional, not popular culture. All you have to do now is stop having the orgasms you think you're not having.

Disagree

My studies of sexology books indicate that current scientific understanding is that orgasm and ejaculation are entirely separate physiological processes that only tend to occur simultaneously.

male anorgasmia

[quote=John Humphrey Noyes]You're not anorgasmic. If you are ejaculating, you are having orgasms. You just figured out a long time ago that orgasms aren't all they're cracked up to be, but you are such a conformist that you think it is you that is dysfunctional, not popular culture. All you have to do now is stop having the orgasms you think you're not having.[/quote]

hello there JHN
thanks for very clear answer and opinion to this whole debate. unfortunately ( i really to mean for me as well). as i wrote in my first posting that sparked this subject, my very first experiences of masturbation were accompanied with an orgasm. then one day it disappeared -literally as unmistakable as waking up one day and losing your sense of taste or smell or touch. so unfortunately any conformism that i am suffering from are my previous ideas as what an orgasm did to relationships and biology, not to what the actual feeling of what an orgasm is. i had them, i 'lost' them and the experience is palpable and still fresh in my mind..

also ejaculations really are not the same thing as orgasms. they are heavily associated in the bio-sexual mechanism but they are by no means pre-requisites for each other to function. it sounds clever must i must be 'illiterate' in some sense to be in this way.
one of the definitions of male anorgasmia is (not just retarded ejaculation, but). no orgasm - not no ejaculation.

with that said an done i think that its still interesting to approach your idea in some way. the "All you have to do now is stop having the orgasms you think you're not having."
it does resonate in some way.

thanks John.

monk-ki

Can't hurt to experiment

That's how you learn new things.

And, believe me, we all have long lists for why relationships are risky. The thing is...like it or not...we're pair-bonding mammals who are molded to get important health benefits from close, trusted companionship. (http://www.reuniting.info/science/pairbonding_strength_weakness) So it's worth checking out the options. The advantage to this one is that bonding behaviors seem to help with what I think of as "authentic monogamy." They decrease subconscious fear, which means partners treat each other more lovingly (and with more integrity) naturally. This gradually makes love less scary.

A question

My partner does not experience a drop off after orgasm, and in fact, seems to feel more close and bonded afterward, and I'm wondering if you can give me any insight into this, since my experience is so different. I really appreciate your site and how much it has helped me and those I've recommended it to!

Hi Searching,

I believe you that your partner feels more closely bonded following orgasm. I see two possibilities here:

1. You partner has no negative reaction to orgasm, only positive.
2. The negative reaction doesn't show up until many days later, or possibly not at all provided there is another orgasm within that time frame, or it is so subtle that it's hard to detect.

If you're burning to find out which it is, you could try using one of the self-tracking tools here: http://www.reuniting.info/node/2084. A questionnaire can sometimes pick up subtle variations better than raw self-observation.

one more item

Also, Marnia, I don't have to orgasm to have a drop off. If I even get too aroused and close to orgasm I get a drop off. So we are working to find out what my "point of pleasure" is where I don't get the drop off and thereby enjoy and want to stay connected to my lover. Any suggestions or insight appreciated.

You know what?

I have no thoughts on this. Which is rare.:-) I guess in any human program there are not only myriad slight variations, but also "outliers," people who don't fit the norm. Guess that's how the species evolves.

Perhaps she has found a rhythm that works for her, with relatively infrequent orgasm...and lots of bonding behaviors in the meantime(?). All I know is that my husband and I are like you...damn it! Wink Too much arousal, and we notice ill effects, however mild.

I will add that sometimes after orgasm (in the good ole days) I would stay extremely affectionate for even 4-5 days. My pattern tends to be to notice the worst mood swings in week two. Gary, on the other hand, feels the effects early on, and often seems to recover in a more linear pattern. We've sometimes wondered if it's a male-female thing...but in talking to many others, I've heard from women who notice immediate effects, and men with different patterns, too.

"It's a mystery."

Speaking of mysteries, does you sweetheart have any interest in exploring sex without going for orgasm? It could help you two sync up. In any case, it would be interesting to see what she notices if she tries an approach like this:

The technique is not based on control. [During intercourse] you are not seeking to avoid orgasm or to manipulate your bodily energies; you are merely closing your eyes, feeling those energies stream into your heart, head and genitals and those of your lover, and allowing them to circulate.… You are always relaxing, relaxing, falling back into the heart. Effortless awareness is the key. All your energies will be drawn upward, diffused throughout the body.… As this takes place, lustful tendencies will be transmuted into feelings of love and the need for conventional orgasm will lessen.
[James N. Powell, Energy and Eros: Teachings on the Art of Love, (New York: William Morrow and Company, Inc., 1985): 182.]

That's fascinating

Marnia, I wonder if my partner does feel the effects days down the road. It would be easy to miss and hard to monitor if that was the case but I guess it is possible.

There is one other thing I would like to mention and that is we both started doing Qigong, a Chinese exercise form like TaiChi, about 2 months ago and almost immediately we both experienced stabilized moods and less of a need to orgasm for me and when the few times I did orgasm less of a drop off. And I am now feeling fairly confident that I do not need the orgasm. I am enjoying the more constant connection and oxytocin experience.

You have been a great aid in our relationship and love making.

Another viewpoint

Some of us find that orgasm is powerfully bonding and healing, and we can have them, but they aren't the whole picture in our bonding and oxytocin story. I have no doubt that orgasm releases chemicals that create a response--but how is that response being framed? And what is the role of shame? What if I can hold orgasm as feeling relaxed and close to someone else, as a welcome release--happy and close for days afterwards? I wonder if it is more the arousal itself that creates the drop-off, as I tend to spend much less time in the state of arousal. This is all just food for thought, and I don't know the answer--but I sometimes suspect that what we are chasing is more the chemical high of arousal itself, not the longer and more sustained chemistry of bonding--a chemistry that is now LARGELY missing from our cultures and families (and I realize you are addressing this here through promoting bonding by not having orgasms). Intercourse and orgasm can and does create a powerful sense of bonding for me, and I think appreciating that people are different is important. I wonder if we can just accept that for some people it's a very good thing, while for others, it's not? I have no doubt that many people here are better off not having orgasms. But I also want to feel some acceptance for the fact that some of us don't experience the drop-off, and don't "go away" after sex...and maybe it would be good to investigate why that is...instead of an all-out ban on the orgasm???

Well, Bay

We have in fact noticed that some couples seem to have a lot more problems with orgasms than others. If you're perfectly happy as a couple even while having orgasms and you're not curious about other modes of lovemaking, then you have no need for this website, and that's good for you!

I like to think about it this way: some people can eat a lot of junk food and not experience any ill effects. Maybe it's because of their physiology, or maybe it's because there are mitigating factors, such as that they exercise a lot. If you're trying to educate people about nutrition, those aren't the people to target- you want to focus on educating the people who know that their eating habits are already affecting their health, because they have a reason to change. We have enough people on this site that *know* that orgasm has adversely affected them, that we don't really need to work to convince the other people.

I also think you're right that intercourse, even with orgasm, is generally good for bonding, assuming you don't run into habituation or other effects further down the road. If you practice karezza, you get pretty much the same feeling of closeness and relaxation, just without the orgasm and without an intense, craving-type arousal.

Hope that helps.

Puzzled by your reply

I'm puzzled why you say I'm not curious about other modes of lovemaking? We do in fact have plenty of non-orgasmic love-making, and I am interested in the website because my partner is very effected by ejaculating--my question was more about why aren't we also studying people who don't have the let-down after sex to find out why. To compare the fact that my orgasms don't create this problem for me (at least at this time in my life) to the ability to endure junk food seems sort of, well, strange and off the mark. I am just curious about why some people are effected and others are not, and I think it's more than being about craving (as I don't have that craving type of arousal--I am more excited by closeness, as is he...) I just wanted to have a conversation about cultural attitudes and shame and other possibilities for why people get such a let-down--sometimes culture has a lot to do with shaping our neurochemistry. But, maybe this is a conversation for some other place, as you seem to indicate by your response.

Not at all

I apologize for having misinterpreted your comment. Some people do get the idea that the point of this site is trying to persuade everyone that orgasm is "bad," and therefore try to start an argument with us that it's not, based on their experience, which is sort of what I thought you were trying to do. Since the idea that orgasm is bad or evil is not at all what the material here is trying to promote (in my opinion, anyway), most of us try to avoid having such counterproductive arguments. I was just trying to convince you that there was no argument to be had from that angle, not trying to dismiss what you were saying, so I'm sorry it come out wrong.

Personally I'm also fairly interested in why some people have a different reaction to orgasm than others. Unfortunately, we don't really have any way to study it physiologically ourselves (beyond reading every scarce scientific study that comes out about the subject), and so far we don't have much reason to believe that much of the difference would be caused by psychological or cultural factors such as shame, since we have a lot of examples of people who were brought up with no sense of shame around sex whatsoever who still feel some post-orgasmic "fallout." If anyone has a different experience or theory however, we would love to hear about it!

The junk-food metaphor was not intended to mean that having orgasms is the same as irresponsibly consuming junk food. It's just to help those of us who don't have as much obvious orgasmic fallout understand those who do. Personally, I can eat about whatever I want to without gaining weight, but I shouldn't necessarily look at people who are overweight (and may be eating exactly the same diet as me) and think, "If only they didn't have complexes about food, they wouldn't be overweight." They *may* have a complex about food...or they may just have a different metabolism which they can do nothing about...or both. But if you're here in order to help out your partner, this is a point you probably already understand.

In our experience, *most* people are affected by orgasm to some degree or other, but it's a lot more obvious for some people than others. Some get a near-immediate effect that can have severe physical symptoms lasting for days (ex: Post-Orgasmic Illness Syndrome), and for others the only negative effect is some mild-to-moderate moodiness that doesn't start until a week or more after the event (also everything in between). The people in the latter category will generally never connect the two until someone actually asks them to look for the connection, because the time lag is so great (and often they never go more than a week at a time without orgasm to begin with).

I hope that clarifies things some. You're certainly welcome to stick around and discuss anything you like!

Thanks

Oh, interesting to hear about cultures without shame also having this--I didn't know that! I appreciate your response (I'm a little reactive today but it's about something else going on, so I'm sorry if I heard your reply the wrong way). I really am quite interested in helping my partner and others with this to understand why, and to not feel shame around this issue, which I think this site is brilliant at doing. For me, I get more of a relaxation response after, but for my partner, it's so very different, and I've worked hard to understand what's going on for him. (And I'll be paying more attention to see if there's a delayed effect for me) This site was a revelation for him, and it has helped quite a bit, and I'm willing to educate myself further and try things out with him--as we've already been doing. I know there has been quite an imperative for people to have the Big O, and that is pretty harmful and can bring up a lot of shame when it doesn't happen in the right way at the right time, or at all, etc. I just wanted to be careful to note that there's also no imperative for not having them, from time to time, and that exploring how these differences in reactions occur could be helpful and interesting. So, thanks for taking the time to respond!

You're welcome!

Just one clarification- the people I was referring to in regards to lack of shame were mostly brought up in Western cultures, just by parents who were liberal about sex- so it's possible they also experience some shame around it indirectly from forces in the general culture. However, we do have other types of info, such as very old D/Taoist writings or sexual practices and writings from other cultures that would tend to indicate that this is far from being simply a modern phenomenon or just a Western one.

I'll go an enable you to blog if someone hasn't already, and then if you like you can tell us all about your story and what your partner has been dealing with. We'd certainly be interested to hear.

response

Thanks, We are both fascinated by attachment and bonding, and those differences, and I see that this site has a lot to offer with regard to that, so thanks--as time permits, I may do that.

Great dialog

My thoughts are that indeed people are different, and that factors like upbringing, shame, sexual habits, type of sex (intercourse vs. other), diet, state of relationship, and practices like qi gong or meditation ALL have roles to play. As Gary tells his students, we never have a feeling, memory, or thought - or carry out a physiological function - without neurochemical events going on in our brains and body. This is the mind-body connection at its most basic. So neurochemicals, feelings and behaviors, past and present, play circular roles.

I think Bay is definitely onto something when she says that her orgasms are produced without a sense of urgency/craving beforehand - and lots of soothing bonding behaviors - and that this difference from, say, someone engaging in hot foreplay before orgasm may play a major role in her reaction. After all, based on the science we're finding, it seems to be the dopamine cycle of highs and lows that causes the most fallout after orgasm. (Dopamine is the "I gotta have it!" or "craving" neurochemical.) Certainly this is the case with other forms of intense stimulation (like cocaine, for example). This means that an orgasm that is a function of relaxation may not kick off the dopamine drama - and certainly not to the same extent as someone watching extreme porn or whatever.

I've long wondered whether some of us sexual athletes got very good at hitting that "craving accelerator," that jacked up our dopamine for big crescendos, and inadvertently laid down stronger reflexes for this kind of "forced" orgasm. Maybe our bodies just don't remember the "relaxed" approach very well.

I also find that study interesting where the women who had orgasms via oral sex or sex toys later rated men's pictures less attractive and friendly than women who had orgasms via intercourse. Similarly, one study showed that orgasm with intercourse lowered blood pressure and stress better than orgasms without intercourse.

All this suggests (to me, at least) that bonding behaviors and a relaxed approach are wiser than the kind of advice being dished out in the media. That said, I'm still intrigued by what might happen when that energy is stored and channeled upward...just for the heck of it.

I have some thoughts about shame, too. Anything that makes sex more exciting or risky or fraught with inner turmoil seems to raise dopamine. This means that approaches that vilify orgasm ("You'll go to hell if you masturbate, or have sex before marriage.") can produce an intense high-low dopamine cycle, just as extreme porn can, or even childhood sexual abuse (that lays down intense pathways due to the shocking nature of such events to young, especially plastic, brains). Any of these things (by raising dopamine in connection with orgasm) can result in bigger hangovers after orgasm.

However, it would be over-simplifying to suggest that *shame* is always the problem, or that anyone who is reactive to orgasm suffered child sexual abuse, or that anyone who experiences a big crash afterward must be a chronic user of extreme porn.

In all cases, the best course seems to be to teach people how their mating neurochemistry works and let them chart the course they prefer for themselves. That not only frees them to experiment, but also helps them understand why their partners might be different from them...without making anyone pathological.

Certainly Gary and I never, EVER thought there was a hangover after orgasm for much of our sex lives. Yet, in retrospect, we were both coping with them constantly. As many of you have already heard, they usually showed up in my life as my becoming sharp of tongue and disappointed with a lover...on some imagined pretext or other. In fact, the turnover in my love life was so discouraging that it drove me to look for answers. The hangovers showed up in Gary's life as an urge to self-medicate with alcohol, and pretty much chronic depression.

As far as we can tell, neither of us had any childhood sex-shame stuff. His dad was a sex educator at one point, and his mom was a therapist. My mom told me "the facts of life" in kindergarten "because she didn't want me to hear it wrong at school." Her version seemed highly improbable to me...but turned out to be 100% correct. I don't remember any guilt-trips at all, in connection with our many discussions (or my many discussions with her mother, who was a social worker and had "seen it all")...until I informed Mother that I would be living in my boyfriend's fraternity for the summer. But her reaction didn't seem completely out of line...and in any case had no impact on my decision. Smile

All this is a long way of saying that chances are that everyone's observations have merit, and that dialogs like this one are very helpful in showing the breadth and depth of this issue.

Like Bay, I would be curious to know more about how nervous systems like hers work. But if the typical orgasm indeed causes neurochemical ripples (at least potentially) for two weeks...and the effects are often projected onto one's partner (as mine were)...and therefore would be lost in self-reports, how would we ever measure this effect accurately? Perhaps someday.

And should the goal be to "have okay orgasms" or to see what sexual energy can do when it's employed consistently, and jointly, for some larger end? I confess that that second goal now draws me.

Owning it...

Honestly, I think some of my reaction is about--is this really okay for my partner not to have orgasms? Won't it make him want to act out compulsively in other areas? Will it make him want to look at porn or other partners? For partners of people who've taken this very different road, it's difficult to understand--especially when we are unaware of a negative response to orgasm in ourselves--and I think it becomes too easy for us to pathologize them for this "problem," as so much of the therapeutic world tends to do...

I think I'm really beginning to get the differences in chemical responses, and whether they emerge from some sort of trauma or not, it's still a very real, physiological thing that is happening to the brain. I'm realizing that it's possible some of my reaction to this idea is because it scares me. I remember all those human sexuality courses in school that essentially said, "use it or lose it." And I don't want our sex life to die! But, as I read what others have written here, I am getting that I've heard much of this in the wrong way--that people with this particular set of neurological wires need a different set of behaviors. Maybe I just stumbled on the behaviors out of dumb luck! Or maybe I'm having a reaction I'm not yet aware of. It seems that the very thing I want from my partner is what he is attempting to do with the help of this site. So I have to look at why I feel threatened by it! I can sense that it's almost this knee-jerk reaction, and as I become aware of that, I realize that it's my issue. (Oh, isn't it always!) (but in my defense, he didn't present the idea of this quite as well as it is presented here....)

That said, I am very intrigued by this idea of drawing on sexual energy for "some larger end." I see an evolution here, and a real possibility. He and I have come very far in terms of relating, much less blaming or projecting stuff onto each other, etc., so it's a little mind blowing to think we could reach even higher levels of relating through these practices....! Anyway, thanks for the lively discussion!

Thank you, too

I hope this exchange continues in the future. I totally understand your reaction, given your training. Still, to me it's a bit tragic that the profession that is in the best position to understand projection (how changes in feelings can be projected onto those around us) is the most rigidly opposed to considering the possibility that neurochemical changes after orgasm might cause projections to flicker, thereby causing unnecessary friction in sexual relationships. The neurochemists who see the dopamine changes in the brain seem not to realize that they will definitely result in changed feelings...and that projections of those changes are inevitable.

You might find this article interesting: http://www.reuniting.info/science/sex_and_depression_in_the_brain_if_not.... It's the first I've seen by a psychiatrist...daring to say orgasm can have unpleasant fallout even when people seem to be emotionally healthy. Of course I wrote to him. And of course there was no answer. Wink

I've also learned in the last few years that Freud did not get cures in patients whose sexual energy he claimed to have "un-repressed." He falsified his case studies. And Kinsey's data was seriously doctored, too, and was not representative of the population at large. And Reich actually stumbled upon karezza-style lovemaking, too, but was so bent on his theory that he ignored what he noticed about how it put partners in tune.

In short, I think that a lot of the orgasm lore is largely supported by word of mouth rather then proof. I suspect a lot of the benefits reported in the few studies that purport to "prove" the benefits of orgasm are due to intercourse (bonding behaviors)...not orgasm. After all, researchers can't even study lovemaking without orgasm because it is presumed to be so dangerous - so how can they compare? (Yet monks and nuns have been celibate for centuries, and many were doing OK.)

All this said, rigid fears of orgasm are not healthy, and not to be encouraged. But from what I've been learning, neither are rigid ideas about its supposed merits. People need to find their own balance with better information.

Loved your bonding article, by the way. Thanks for posting it.

my profession

Oh, the rigidity in my field doesn't surprise me--I was in a workshop the other day, and much of the attention was on bonding and attachment in the therapeutic relationship, and a man bent in the psychoanalytic method (Freud, etc.) got up and walked out. You'd think there would be more of an open-mind, but I'm finding (on forums and discussion boards) that there tends to be a lot of "turf" wars, and in-fighting! (People are very identified with their theories!) Sometimes it's just jaw-dropping! (But at least there was a workshop on this, right?) I'm convinced that John Bowlby (the original attachment theorist) will be more important than Freud one of these days--or decades! And the field of neuroscience is currently proving Bowlby right (Sue Johnson draws largely from him). So, the therapeutic world will take some time to turn--like one of those barges out at sea with all of that momentum, that takes miles and miles to change direction! But, I do see it happening. And I think bonding is absolutely essential in healing the brain, creating neuroplasticity, alleviating depression, etc. We have an unprecedented amount of loneliness in this culture, and I believe it really drives compulsions of all kinds. It's a relief to see a site that really thoroughly addresses the bonding aspects of sexuality! I hope Sue Johnson finds her way here at some point!

I did look at the above article and found it very interesting. I'm glad I could also contribute something!

*chuckle*

Frustrating, isn't it? This bonding area is so important.

And in any case it would be nice if "pursuit of truth" rather than "defense of turf" were the guiding light in general. Ever read Bryson's "Short History of Everything?" One example after the other of the same problem...in all professions.