In Defense of Orgasms


I recently read Peace Between the Sheets by Marnia Robinson.  In this book, Robinson proposes that orgasms are bad for your health and your relationship.  In the grand scheme of things, I beg to disagree.    

I agree with some of what she has written.  The brain responds to orgasms the same way it responds to addictive chemicals.  We can, in effect, become addicted to orgasms.  I don’t mean becoming a full fledged sex addict.  Instead, I’m talking about a more subtle addiction.  This low level addiction is what makes many men (and some women) think they need sex every day and causes them to masturbate daily even when they are in a relationship.

Mindless, disconnected orgasms like that aren’t necessarily bad for you.  However, when those kinds of orgasms are typical and habitual, you’re really selling yourself short.  They may help to relieve tension, but they can also dissipate beneficial energy in the body. Most men have learned to orgasm in this way: the “fantasize, stimulate, ejaculate” model.  It’s not related to real life and takes you away from awareness of your self or your partner.  That kind of orgasm is like eating astronaut ice cream (you know, the freeze dried kind) instead of Haagen-Dazs.  It’ll do in a pinch, but it’s not really satisfying. 

A better, more satisfying orgasm is what I would call a mindful or connected orgasm.  This is usually associated with a partner, but it can be done solo as well.  Akin to meditation, you focus your attention on the task at hand, rather than rushing to the end result.  The feel of your partner’s skin, their scent, their responses, are all focus points for you, and vice versa.  You don’t have to be romantic or leisurely, either; you just have to focus your attention on what’s happening in each moment.  To go deeper into this type of orgasm, try it with your eyes open, looking into your partner’s eyes.    

The best type of orgasm is what I call a union orgasm.  This is what Robinson was attempting to educate people about.  It’s a Tantric orgasm in the truest sense and creates a full-body, every cell involved orgasm that rocks you to the core of your being.  Your sense of individual self dissolves into union with the Divine.  During intercourse, a man can receive this kind of orgasm by withholding his ejaculation.  It takes a lot of practice, but the idea behind it is that you take all that sexual tension and re-circulate it through the body using a certain type of breath work, and channel it to access the kundalini energy.   

I’ve had that kind of orgasm exactly once in my life.  I was fully clothed, in a room with a hundred other people, staring into the eyes of a complete stranger.  It gave whole new meaning to the phrase, “Holy Fuck!”  Although it was a peak and as yet unrepeated experience, it did forever change the orgasms I have on a regular basis.  Even the quickies are more satisfying now, and even when I don’t have a traditional orgasm, it’s because the rest of the experience is intensely more pleasurable than just the last act.    

The problem I see with Robinson’s work is that most people aren’t ready for it.  She gives a number of exercises designed to lead people there on a physical level, but she doesn’t clearly state that the purpose of this kind of orgasm is union with the Divine.  She doesn’t give guidance (nor do I think that kind of guidance is effective in a book form) about the spiritual component of the work.  Her instructions left me thinking, “Why would I want to do this?”  And I’ve experienced it—I do know why I’d want to do this!  I really felt she missed the spiritual and evolutionary aspect of the process.

Her biggest argument is that all of the cranky, disconnected behavior that causes couples to eventually separate is caused by a hangover from the orgasms.  The way I look at it, if you don’t want the hangover, keep having orgasms.