What is Karezza?

Karezza (pronounced ka-RET-za) is a type of gentle, affectionate sexual intercourse. The word “Karezza” comes from the Italian word “carezza,” meaning “caress.” The goal of Karezza, unlike most kinds of sexual intercourse, is not orgasm but reaching a relaxed state of union with your sexual partner.

Karezza encourages sexual partners to be as relaxed as possible, and to take deep breaths to relax when feelings of intense energy surge.

The emphasis of Karezza is not on sexual passion but spiritual love for another person. Practitioners of Karezza engage in sensual bonding activities such as smiling and skin-to-skin contact rather than typical foreplay activities. When practitioners reach sexual intercourse, it’s much slower and more relaxed than typical intercourse.

History of Karezza

The history of Karezza is recorded in “The Karezza Method,” a 1931 book written by sex theorist J. William Lloyd. According to Lloyd, the Quaker doctor Alice B. Stockham is responsible for naming the practice and popularizing it in the United States. But he wrote that an Oneida, New York man named John Humphrey Noyes discovered Karezza in 1844.

Noyes shaped the sexual practice that would become Karezza from “experiences and experiments in his own martial life.” He called his practice of achieving sexual closeness without orgasm “Male Continence” because it was still permissible for a woman to achieve orgasm during this type of sexual experience. Later, Karezza came to be defined by both of the partners having a non-orgasmic sexual experience.

According to Lloyd, a major goal of Karezza is to maintain a strong sexual energy and stave off sexual tension or diminishing sexual desires. Lloyd also wrote that Karezza is capable of helping to treat various bodily ailments including:

There is no research to support Karezza as a treatment for those medical conditions.

However, Karezza is capable of boosting feel-good feelings in the brain. That’s because the sensual activities that are a part of Karezza — such as cuddling, smiling, and kissing — boost levels of oxytocin in the body. Oxytocin, also called the “love” or “cuddle” hormone, is released when people snuggle together or socially bond with one another.

There is no one set method to perform Karezza. However, in his book, Lloyd emphasizes the need for quiet, warmth, relaxation, and love instead of passion.

Lloyd includes sample Karezza instructions in his book. It begins with caressing and verbal communication of the words “I love you” as well as affirmations of beauty and goodness. Touching moves into intercourse, which should be slow and, again, focused on love rather than passion. There should also be a focus on unity and becoming one with your sexual partner in feeling, energy, and thought.

According to Lloyd, you’ve done Karezza successfully if you feel you’ve experienced a direct unifying connection to your lover.

Common Karezza positions are very relaxed, such as lying side by side or on top of one another. Penetration should be slow and deliberate to avoid orgasm. According to Karezza practitioners like Lloyd, doing so will prolong your sexual experience and increase your connection or magnetism (closeness) with your sexual partner.

During Karezza, try using some of the following bonding behaviors to enhance your sensual and sexual experience, without causing an orgasm:

  • smile, especially when making eye contact
  • make skin-to-skin contact
  • give unsolicited approval with smiles or compliments
  • look into your partner’s eyes for a few moments
  • listen to your partner intently
  • silently forgive yourself or your partner for errors or thoughtlessness
  • synchronize your breathing with your partner’s
  • kiss your partner with your lips and tongue
  • cradle or gently rock your partner’s head or torso
  • hold or spoon your partner in stillness for at least half an hour
  • make wordless sounds of contentment or pleasure in front of your partner
  • stroke your partner with the intent to comfort them
  • massage your partner, especially on the feet, shoulders, or head
  • hug your partner with the intent to comfort them
  • lie with one ear over your partner’s heart to hear their heartbeat
  • suck or touch your partner’s nipples and breasts
  • place your hand gently over your partner’s genitals with the intention to comfort them

Unlike traditional sexual intercourse, the end goal of Karezza is not orgasm but increased closeness with your sexual partner. The emphasis of Karezza is not passion but love.

Karezza can be difficult for those who have never tried it. That’s not because Karezza is difficult but because it’s so simple it can easily be overthought. Biologically driven sex, where orgasm is the end goal, is often stressful and far from relaxing. Relaxing, bonding behaviors used in Karezza signal safety and closeness.

Experts recommend trying the Karezza method for at least three weeks and then checking its effect on your wellbeing and sexual life. It takes a lot of practice to perfect so it can become tedious. You might even feel frustrated while trying to avoid orgasm. Remember to be patient and be sure to communicate with your partner while trying this and any other sexual practice. What’s most important is that you’re both on the same page.

Trying any kind of new sexual technique can be both exciting and challenging. Karezza is very different than most types of traditional sexual intercourse methods. So you might be skeptical that it can satisfy you and your partner. But practitioners argue that Karezza is infinitely more satisfying than more traditional types of sexual intercourse, where orgasm is the end result.

You’ll only know if Karezza is right for you if you give it a try. If you decide to try Karezza, be sure to take things slow and maintain good communication with your partner. Sex is a two-way street. When having sex, you should not only consider your needs but the needs of your partner. Remember to always ask for consent, no matter what kind of sex you’re having.