Abstain from Orgasm? Ummm... No, I Don't Recommend That

A smart and well-read guy asks Carolyn about the little known theory of "dopamine fallout" after sex...

Dear Carolyn,

I just finished reading your book and, even though your audience is women, as a man I was intrigued by it. I have several questions:


First, do you experience (or have other women reported) a "let down," or change in emotions for a week or two after having sex? The reason I ask is because there is another theory out there written by an author who notices dopamine changes after sexual activity (specifically orgasm) that can affect how partners perceive each other. I'm not promoting her book but if you're curious, the title is Cupid's Poison Arrow by Marnia Robinson.


Since you talk with a lot of women, I wonder if the Forty Beads Method may be helping with the "dopamine fallout" problem that Marnia describes. She says that the reason we fall victim to looking at our partners as "takers" versus “givers” is due to the biological changes that happen after sex. In other words, fluctuations in dopamine. I have kept track myself and have noticed that my girlfriend and I start acting differently after sex or, more specifically, orgasm. Marnia's book talks about this withdrawal and, although men are more prone to it, she documents how women get turned off biologically, too. Her solution is to abstain from orgasm as she has identified this to be the culprit.


I'm wondering if Beading is a way of self-regulating our perceptions about each other even if the biological element is true.  In other words, does Beading really help to quell this "biological fallout" that happens to couples? Does it somehow buffer partners from objectifying each other?  


Thanks for sharing your story of sexual and relationship harmony. We certainly need more people sharing solutions to help us navigate through this sea of relationship discord that seems to be permeating our culture.


In appreciation,



Hi Frank,

What an interesting theory you're rolling out here. I'd certainly be the last person to carelessly toss stones at an idea that flies in the face of conventional thinking. I mean, Beads and a Beadcatcher transforming a relationship? Who'da thought that would work, right? That said, this Robinson woman's theory of the "dopamine fallout" goes against everything I've learned about dopamine and more importantly, everything I've heard from women who experience the satisfaction of developing a healthy sex life with their partners. 


Dopamine is a natural stimulant released in the brain during orgasm (and yeah, at other times, too)  known for producing super positive emotions like excitement and elation. I haven't read the book, but it sounds like the author is suggesting that couples experience a withdrawal from each other, caused by the dopamine spike during orgasm and subsequent dip. Women tell me that their experience is just the opposite. They feel closer to their husbands after sex and becoming conscious of this experience brings the realization that, "You know, we really should do this more often!" So they continue using The Forty Beads Method and it continues to bring them closer as a couple. 


Now, if I were to buy in to her theory, I could see how Beading could be a logical way around the suggested biological fallout since the Method causes couples to be more conscious about their positive feelings toward each other after a Bead redemption (a.k.a. a roll in the hay).


But I would have to say, no, I don't agree with Ms. Robinson's theory. And no offense, but I seriously hate her solution. Abstaining from orgasm? I can't think of a big enough reason for us humans to deny ourselves the magical mystery tour. Except for maybe an end to world hunger.  But I'd be pretty suspect of that outcome as well. 


Thanks for sharing such a provocative idea, Frank!