The Art of Sexuality in Ancient China

General Principles

Wood Painting

 Most of the general principles of the ancient art of sexuality in China were set between 500BCE and 200 CE. Even when some concepts might appear out of date and far from common use it is important to be aware of their meaning in order to have a better understanding of the life, customs and teachings of the manuals. Next, they will be briefly summarized.


All secretions and fluids produced by the woman's genital organs constitute the Yin essence, which was believed to be a nest for the male's semen in order to conceive a child.

Women contain a vast reservoir of Yin essence. Men, in contrast, have limited quantities of sperm. Men are clearly the weak sexual element in comparison with the superior female sexual strength. That is partially the reason why most of the advice found in the manuals is directed towards men.

The Sexual Relation

The sexual contact was considered to fulfill a double objective. First, the conception of a child, in order for men to do his duty and be in harmony with the order of things by continuing his family. The sexual act was his sacred duty because the happiness of the ancestors depended on the proper deeds of their living descendants. Second, the sexual act was an opportunity to strengthening the male vitality by assimilating the woman's superior vitality manifested in the woman's Yin essence. For the woman the sexual relation is benefitial because her potential Yin essence becomes excited and, therefore, becomes stronger.

The coitus is considered part of the natural order and its practice is a sacred duty for both men and women; it is never associated with moral guilt. This union is to be practiced in the privacy of the home, not because it is shameful but because of its divine status it should not be witnessed by strangers.


Sperm is considered one of the most important elements of his being, it is the fountain of his health and vital energy. It will diminish unless it is compensated with an equal quantity of female Yin essence. Therefore, a man needs to give complete satisfaction to his woman every time he has sexual contact with her.

He must restrict the essence that it is lost with each ejaculation, in particular during those days in which the woman is likely to become pregnant, that is to say, when her Yin essence is directed towards conception.

During any other period of time, men must help women reach orgasm without losing his essence. In this way both improve their health with each sexual encounter by strengthening and intensifying his and her vital essence. In order to follow this principle a man needs to prolong the sexual act so that he could increase the time he can be inside the woman and absorb her Yin essence.

When the act is done correctly the Yang essence of a man, strengthen by the woman's ascends from his Tantien (his repository of chi) into his head benefiting his overall being.

If a man ejaculated when the woman was fertile, then the lost Yang essence was compensated by the conception of children with perfect minds and bodies because the proper practice of the sexual act benefited the health of the parents and their descendants.