One place it would be especially helpful to have definitive research on karezza is in the important area of prostate health. Here scientists have actually measured many separate factors and their relationship to prostate cancer: ejaculation, intercourse frequency, marital status, number of sex partners, and cases of sexually transmitted disease. (Bonding-based sex itself has not been evaluated, of course.)
So far, study results conflict with each other on almost every factor. Yet the popular press has made a lot of noise about isolated aspects of results that make good headlines. For example, in one study men who remembered ejaculating more during their twenties had lower rates of prostate cancer.1 This is touted by the press—not the researchers—as proof that “frequent masturbation will prevent prostate cancer.” Before you go (get?) off to improve your health, check your date of birth. The beneficial correlation was seen in one of the studies, only in relation to frequent masturbation in one’s twenties. Moreover, a newer study (2009) found the reverse correlation: Those who were most active while younger had more chance of developing cancer later.2
It seems likely that any practice that either discourages affectionate intercourse or puts a strain on the prostate gland is unwise. However, karezza is a very gentle form of intercourse—unlike tantra or some Taoist practices, in which forceful breathing and muscle-contraction techniques are often employed to resist orgasm. Trying to stay near the edge of orgasm is risky for lots of reasons.
I once asked a medical doctor—who has practiced sacred sex techniques for years—about prostate trouble and ejaculation. He said: “I don’t know of any research on this, but I have a strong opinion that the big consideration is whether there is a sense of control/frustration/holding back involved. If one is moving energy well, then congestion [stagnant blood flow] does not happen.” With karezza, lovers tend to make love for longer periods of time, and more often (over the long term), without fighting to control themselves or going near the edge of intense arousal. Also, erections come and go, which gently pumps blood throughout the entire prostate region.
A recent study on prostate health suggests that holistic lifestyle changes can turn off disease-promoting genes, and activate beneficial ones. In the study, the prostate health (of patients with prostate cancer) responded dramatically to stress management techniques (participation in a weekly support group, yoga-based stretching, breathing techniques, meditation, and daily guided imagery), walking thirty minutes per day, and dietary supplements.
After three months, researchers repeated a biopsy of normal tissue in the subjects’ prostate. They found that genes associated with cancer, heart disease, and inflammation were down-regulated or “turned off,” while protective, disease-preventing genes were “turned on.”3 Researchers suggest that similar lifestyle changes may benefit all men, as the biopsies were of healthy tissue. Might soothing bonding-based lovemaking someday prove to be one such beneficial lifestyle change?
- 1. G. G. Giles, et al., “Sexual Factors and Prostate Cancer,” BJU International, 92(3), July 2003: 211–216; and M. D. Leitzmann, “Ejaculation Frequency and Subsequent Risk of Prostate Cancer,” JAMA, 291(13), April 2004: 1578–1586.
- 2. 'Sex Drive Link to Prostate Cancer,' Jan. 26, 2009, BBC News, [http]://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/7850666.stm. See also, S. J. Jacobsen, et al., "Frequency of Sexual Activity and Prostatic Health: Fact or Fairy Tale?" Urology, 61(2), Feb. 2003: 348–353.
- 3. Dean Ornish, “Changing Your Lifestyle Can Change Your Genes,” Newsweek, June 17, 2008, http://www.newsweek.com/id/141984.