Updated: JANUARY 22, 2015
Reviewed by Kinkly Staff
on October 26, 2022

Karezza refers to a sexual practice in which sex is focused on intimacy and connection, and where orgasm is meant to be avoided.

The term was coined by Alice Stockham, a 19th century Quaker obstetrician and gynecologist. The term is derived from the Italian word "carezza," which means "caress." However, the actual practice dates back much further. According to "The Karezza Method," by J. William Lloyd, the Oneida community, a religious group founded by John Humphrey Noyes in the 1840s, may have been the first to come up with idea in the United States. Initially, the practice was focused on male orgasm in a heterosexual couple, but over time came to refer to both partners. The practice of sexual continence or control of ejaculation is also found in other religious practices, including Taoist practices, Tantra and yoga.

The goal of Karezza, according to Lloyd, is to experience a deep connection with a sexual partner. Karezza, like Eastern forms of the practice, also focuses on the notion of sexual energy, and the idea that failing to orgasm serves to preserve that energy. Proponents of Karezza say that because they never orgasm, they feel continual desire for their partner and more pleasure as a result. He also referred to Karezza as a natural form of birth control, where pleasure could be obtained and "undesired results" avoided.

More About Karezza

Karezza, as a practice, focuses on touch, sensuality and connection. Lloyd compared Karezza to orgasm by saying it is "art, intellect, morality and estheticism in sexual enjoyment, instead of crude, reckless appetite." This notion of orgasm as more primitive drive that can be overcome persists in many forms of sexual continence, especially in religious contexts.

While there isn't much in the way of research on Karezza as a practice, edging and other forms of orgasm control are well-known to be both pleasurable and helpful in improving overall sexual experience. Controlling orgasm can even help people improve sexual problems like premature ejaculation. Gooning - a practice where the pre-orgasm state is desired and maintained for as long as possible - also has many proponents, although it is used exclusively in masturbation, rather than as a form of partnered sex.

However, it is important to note that unlike with Karezza, the goal with edging and gooning is still to orgasm at some point - and, in fact, to produce a more powerful orgasm as a result.

Because Karezza focuses on mindfulness, research also suggests it has the power to improve a couple's sexual experiences and even their well-being.

It is important to note that while not ejaculating can reduce the risk of pregnancy, it is not a reliable form of contraception. Pre-ejaculate can be released any time a person with a penis is sexually and it, too, can contain sperm.


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