Having sex with fewer orgasms may lead to increased sexual satisfaction.
Does “the more you scratch, the more you itch” sometimes apply to sexual arousal?
Intriguingly, the Chinese noticed a “ratcheting up of sexual desire after orgasm” thousands of years ago. Men today do too.
I sometimes feel hornier in the days following orgasm. At such times, I also have strong feelings of attraction for other women (even though I’d never want to have sex with anyone other than my partner). —Tom
My new girlfriend and I got each other off, and now, a day or two later, I’m definitely noticing powerful urges to masturbate and look at porn again (after three months porn-free). It seems so contradictory that our heavy petting would trigger this, but it’s happening. I’m masturbating more and I even looked at homemade porn yesterday. Incidentally, I tried masturbating without porn. To my surprise and anger, my withdrawal symptoms didn’t go away completely. Only the super-stimulation of porn gave me temporary relief from these cravings and that, my friend, is a very sobering and scary thought. Jeez, it really is like crack, ya know? —Dick
After the first orgasm in this recent set, I felt very close to my wife, and I initially felt satiated. After two more orgasms, I began to think about when I could get the next one—perhaps three times per hour. Then I had one orgasm alone, and the frequency of the thoughts approximately doubled. Now that I know what to look for, it is almost humorous to watch the process. It is quite clear that high frequency of orgasm is a disruptive influence that, from a utilitarian perspective, is not desirable. In the last six months, each instance that I returned to porn or masturbated without it occurred the day after I had an orgasm during sex. —Harry
I noticed that after binging on porn, you really need to push yourself to get back on track because orgasm makes you hornier. The first three days are difficult. —Max
Up until last week, I had gone four weeks without ejaculating and felt really good about it. One ejaculation and I’m excessively horny and feeling tempted by porn. I didn’t experience either during the four weeks. Now I feel selfish. I love giving to my wife, but it would sure help to get some more coming back my way. —Alan
According to scholar Douglas Wile (Art of the Bedchamber), the ancient Chinese Daoists recorded that orgasm can inflame sexual desire (after that immediate post-coital relief)—even as it depletes the body and brain. At the same time, they insisted that pleasurable intercourse is vital to good physical and psychological health.
Their solution to this conundrum followed the discovery that frequent sex with occasional ejaculation was less depleting than occasional sex with habitual ejaculation. In their view, lots of sex with little orgasm actually nourished lovers sustainably with whole-body ching (vitality), and relieved men of “lustful thoughts.”
In contrast, the attempt to meet one’s sexual needs through “expenditure without restraint” depleted the brain, accounting for symptoms like premature ejaculation, uneasiness after orgasm, nocturnal emission, and relationship disharmony.
Ah, women. They make the highs higher and the lows more frequent. —Friedrich Nietzsche
Were these observers right? Might fewer highs lead to fewer lows and more satisfaction overall? Quite possibly, although learning balance after years of “expending without restraint” requires an open mind, patience, and a sense of humor. Here are some lovers’ reports:
We have been experimenting with this concept for about a month. My scorecard:
• No porn
• No solitary masturbation
• Three “plateau” orgasms, without ejaculating
• My wife and I are reacquainted
The porn has been surprising easy to give up (well, I did “peak” once in the first week). I’ve noticed no withdrawal symptoms and I don’t feel strongly tempted. This is quite surprising to me, because I have been viewing porn regularly for decades. During the first week, I did ejaculate three times. Since then I have come to realize the benefits of not “going for it.” If I feel the urge to come, I just relax and let it pass. Then we are ready for more. I am really enjoying the long, slow lovemaking that never really ends; we just take a break and start again the next day. I have experienced one incredible orgasm and two mellow ones (all with no ejaculation). But having frequent orgasms is no longer one of my top reasons for living. The best part is that our marriage has come out of a long stale period and is rejuvenated. My wife and I are closer than we have been for years, in bed and throughout the day.
First, I was able to go almost six weeks without an orgasm and during that time I felt very stable emotionally. During that period I had gentle intercourse with my partner. However, in the last month or so I’ve fallen back into a “typical” orgasmic frequency during sex (1-2x/week) and my moods have become less stable. I’m engaging in more thrusting and friction than before. It feels really good at the time and even feels OK not to orgasm, but the build-up in stimulation makes it nearly impossible for me not to seek release at some point.
I have reduced my frequency of orgasm to approximately one quarter the mean of the previous six months (which was 0.76/day). The compulsion to orgasm, which I had been unable to quell for many years, has diminished perceptibly. My wife has said she understands my motive for trying to reduce orgasm frequency, but when we make love, she sometimes actively tries to make me orgasm. I believe that synchronizing my sexual behavior with my wife’s will ultimately bring us closer. If frequent orgasm were the best emotional glue for relationships, we would have been irrevocably, harmoniously bound to each other long ago. Orgasm does not bring lovers closer. What is particularly frustrating for me is that she infrequently has an orgasm during or associated with sex (and has fewer orgasms overall), and has always been experiencing the relationship-enhancing results of fewer orgasms. Unlike me, she has never complained about sexual dissatisfaction, rarely starts fights, and is considerably more content with life and with our marriage.
My sex life is better than it has ever been. I’m getting more, and better, sex than I ever have. I’m enjoying it more, and am much more bonded to my wife. I believe some of us simply have more sexual energy running than others, and this can get us horn dogs in trouble. Karezza [affectionate sex without the goal of orgasm] to the rescue! Karezza is like natural Ritalin for the ADHD personality. It has been a lifesaver for me.
It took my husband months to bounce back after heavy porn use. We now both limit our orgasms to about once a month, and we both notice a big difference. Our new arrangement is fully satisfying and we are not at all frustrated. It does require frequent affection and mutual arousal (short of orgasm) to stay centered though.
Can modern science shed any light on these experiences? Possibly. In fact, the Daoists were likely right that the brain is the key. Intense stimulation (not only today’s super-stimulating sex aids, but even sufficiently arousing sex with orgasm) can be a signal to the brain to look around for other intense stimulation.
This is completely consistent with the “binge trigger” concept: the idea that when the brain registers intense excitement (in the form of a neurochemical signal that something really valuable is about), it numbs itself temporarily in order to urge us to pursue more of it. The Daoists said too much climax “depletes the brain,” which is consistent with this concept, as the numbing is likely to be, in part, a product of reduced D2 (dopamine) receptors in the brain’s striatum.
Whatever the precise mechanism(s), the result can be that, instead of feeling satisfied after intense sexual arousal, we soon hungrily look around for further stimulation. This can throw us onto a speeding treadmill of dissatisfaction and discouragement. Worse yet, it can cause lovers to blame each other for not meeting their sexual needs, when, in fact, their dissatisfaction is the product of subtle brain chemical changes, which cannot be successfully overcome with more stimulation.
In contrast, lovers who make love calmly and often, without the neurochemical blast of intense arousal and orgasm, often tiptoe right past this binge trigger, reap the many benefits of intercourse and intimacy, retain their rosy perception of each other, and avoid annoying cravings for more intense stimulation—just as the Daoists recorded.
—Image by vectorportal/Flickr