A male friend, pictured here, said my book needed to address this question, so here's an excerpt from the new book that does so. Feel free to add your comments to the end of the article.
One reason people often believe that orgasm is purely a beneficial outlet is that it seems to solve the problem of too much sexual energy—or perhaps too much semen if you’re male. This impression seems irrefutable, in part because wet dreams are a natural phenomenon of adolescence. It’s logical to assume that the body is making extra semen that has nowhere else to go.
However, as Dr. Lloyd pointed out in the “Wisdom” section before Chapter 8, semen that is cut off from its natural outlet does not cause a swelling.
Non-ejaculating females sometimes also experience dream orgasms. In addition, people’s experience is that the more they “go for” orgasm, the more frequently dream orgasms occur as well. All of this suggests that there’s more to this phenomenon than excretion of a liquid surplus. Perhaps, in both sexes, such dreams are “dress rehearsals,” which naturally increase libido—due to post-orgasmic cravings in the form of increased sexual tension. Our genes want us ready for action.
The common impression that orgasm is merely a healthy outlet has a hidden risk. It encourages us to solve the dilemma of the phantom “excess” with deliberate masturbation. Without realizing it, we are over-stimulating a very compelling pathway in the brain. In some people, this can lead to an uncomfortable cycle of ever more demanding urges, even though it briefly relieves the “pressure.” (If you are one of those people, realize that it is probably because you haven’t been engaging in enough bonding behaviors, as explained below.)
Excess libido is a brain event more than a body event. Horniness feels like a surplus that must be expended or released, but the need is actually an intense, genuine need to relieve sexual tension through intimate contact. Nourishing, non-goal driven contact decreases these symptoms, and counters anxiety and stress naturally. This means that orgasm is not required for relief; oxytocin-producing contact is.
Yesterday my boyfriend said he always seemed to feel less need to masturbate when in a relationship. He was like, "although, you'd think in some ways the desire would be greater." I was like, "No, I feel the same way."—Suzie
To recap, the feeling of excess, or surplus, arises from an over-activated brain pathway, which is throwing dopamine out of whack, as explained in Chapters 5 and 6. It’s like a faulty keyboard letter that gets stuck every time you hit it and types out the same letter nonstop. Think back to your first orgasms. They probably just happened. They set their own natural rhythm. The over-activated brain pathway is your handiwork. (Good job!) Once you force orgasm, you begin to strengthen a brain pathway that seeks that reward repeatedly.
All this means that you can’t rid yourself of the phantom surplus by means of sexual satiation. Despite short-term relief (when your high dopamine drops), this strategy ultimately inflames your libido even more. Initial relief gives way to increased anxiety. You are now primed for any thought or visual image (cue) that your brain associates with relief. Indeed, if you have been using a lot of porn, your brain may helpfully prompt you with a flashback image at this point in the cycle. This kind of help you don’t need.
Incidentally, karezza offers an effective way to weaken unwelcome erotic fantasies and associations (even fetishes) because it does not lead to the rewarding payoff of orgasm. Without the reinforcing payoff, neural pathways that connect such behaviors with reward gradually lose strength. This is especially true if you substitute a new, unfamiliar behavior—such as gentle intercourse with lots of relaxed stillness.
I am sure of one thing: the kind of behavior I've been through isn't healthy sex. It is not "sexual repression" to stop compulsive sexual behavior.—Martin
Whatever the trigger when you’re feeling low, your dopamine soars in response to it. Now you feel like you have a huge surplus, and no choice but to find relief by the fastest means…at hand. This is a no-win situation. The more edgy or exhausted you feel due to frequent orgasm, the higher your dopamine goes in an effort to urge you toward relief. In other words, a superhuman libido, frequent wet dreams, and hair-trigger orgasms can be indications of sexual depletion—even though they feel like excess. This paradox and its unlikely solution are what the Chinese Taoists discovered many years ago.
Aside from the inconvenience of having to cope with this cycle, the recurring high dopamine over-stimulates the brain. The brain automatically desensitizes itself to dopamine. Over time, the lows may feel lower than before, and pursuing relief may seem even more crucial to your wellbeing.
A year ago (pre-porn use), I could easily regulate my rate of masturbation and thus orgasm, to say once a week, and during periods of sustained spiritual endeavor, could even go for a month without it. Now I'm feeling like a wild bull – every day! I don't understand how I missed it before; this is actually unnatural.—Derek
The solution is not simple, and it may take time—depending upon how intensely you have, quite logically, tried to solve your discomfort with more orgasm. The ultimate solution lies in your brain. You use your rational brain to choose the behaviors that affect your mammalian brain for best results. Do your best not to initiate orgasm (although it may continue to happen inadvertently while your brain is returning to balance). By resisting the urge to initiate orgasm, you don’t strengthen the reward circuitry in your brain that is tapping out those false “surplus” alerts.
I've become increasingly sensitive all over my body. I don't exactly feel hornier, that's not it. It's like all of the sensation that I was channeling into orgasm has now evenly distributed itself through my whole nervous system.—Emily
At the same time you ease your cravings—that is, you avoid the stressful feelings of withdrawal (low dopamine) to the extent you can—with oxytocin-producing activities. Sharing your favorite bonding behaviors with a sweetheart is ideal for this purpose, but other activities also produce soothing oxytocin. Here’s a list derived from research on oxytocin, although a complete list would no doubt be much longer:
· voluntary exercise,
· harmonious interactions with others, support group meetings,
· caring for pets,
· voluntary generosity,
· inspiring scenery, pleasant smells (pine forest, bread baking),
· calming music, singing,
· warm, supportive touch, therapeutic massage,
· companionship, and
· probably yoga and meditation
I think if I had a friend struggling with some kind of compulsion, I would encourage them toward cooperative living.—John
All of these experiences are also rewarding, but not so intensely rewarding as to desensitize you further (to dopamine). Make your own list of things you enjoy that don’t throw you into an addictive cycle. (In other words, go lightly on the refined sugar, alcohol, gambling, video games, etc.) Refer to your list when your mammalian brain tries to urge you toward another cycle of “relief.”
The cure for inflamed libido is much like the cure for poison ivy. “Don’t scratch, and use lots of soothing lotion (oxytocin-producing behaviors) while you wait for healing to occur.” The more you scratch, the more you will itch. Meanwhile, observe your withdrawal symptoms, and learn how your mammalian mating program has been affecting your life.
I’ve long had a predilection for an "orgasm nightcap" in response to my insomnia (when my wife wouldn’t have sex). Two weeks into stopping orgasm and guess what? I am sleeping just fine! More and more, I am less inclined to see my beloved orgasm as the wonderful stress relieving elixir I once did.—Marc