Finding Pleasure In Denial: All About Edging and Orgasm Control

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The exquisite high of an earth-shattering orgasm is intoxicating. However, pleasure seekers are missing out on a spine-tingling way to make those peaks reach the stars if their only goal is to climax. 

Edging, otherwise known as peaking or surfing, is a method of controlling your orgasms with more precision with or without a partner. The goal is to maintain a high level of sexual arousal for a long period of time without reaching orgasm immediately or, sometimes, at all. 

When we sense an orgasm peaking over the horizon, it’s often too seductive to resist charging toward it with abandon. It’s part of being human to want the sense of satisfaction that accompanies a climax. However, controlling your orgasms unlocks a bigger pleasure toolbox that allows a variety of climaxes–and we’ve been doing it for centuries. 

“Taoist traditions have extremely elaborate methods for cultivating this ability, as well as some yogic lineages from India, Tibet, and China,” explained international educator Kenneth Play, who says that while there is little scientific sex research on edging, it is present throughout ancient eastern spiritual traditions that include sexual practices. “These traditions use this practice to retain energy and alertness and direct it towards the goals of their tradition.”

By using delaying tactics, such as a gentler build-up and pelvic floor control, anyone can learn to edge their orgasms into a new dimension of pleasure. The art of edging also builds a foundation for more mindful sexual experiences that build awareness of the self and your partner. 

“Edging takes your focus away from the orgasm itself, and helps you think more about other kinds of pleasure,” said sex expert and educator for BedBible Rachel Worthington. “Those that can take a long time to orgasm often hyper-fixate on climaxing and end up feeling a lot of anxiety about taking too long or not feeling how they think they should, all of which can make orgasm even more elusive. Edging encourages you to pay attention to pleasurable sensations that occur before orgasm, rather than only thinking about the end goal.”

Edging yourself

Before pulling out this particular trick in partnered sex, developing orgasm control solo is a necessity. 

Do not expect perfection in your early experiments, refining this art requires a lot of patience and self-control, which only comes with practice. For your first attempt, set aside a good chunk of time to avoid feeling rushed, edging is not appropriate for a quickie. 

“Start off how you would usually, whether that’s with your hands or a sex toy,” advised Worthington. “While you can use porn or erotica to help you get aroused, I recommend trying without it so that you can pay full attention to your body and the sensations you’re feeling. As you get more into it, you can go faster or harder, but when you feel that you’re on the brink of orgasming, stop stimulating yourself or start going much slower.”

Keep taking controlled breaths until the pressure of the impending orgasms eases off and then slowly restart stimulation gain. Developing a keen awareness of the pulses of pleasure is key here. Allow the waves to crest without rushing toward the final climax. Let it build slowly but do not let the waves crash, hold them back with deep breaths and by relaxing the muscles in your pelvis and abdomen. 

“As you repeatedly do this, instead of driving towards orgasm, you’ll train yourself to savor the pleasure and also to orgasm differently,” added Play. “It takes time, patience, and perseverance, but eventually your body will operate differently during sex and you will have a different relationship to pleasure internally. You will eventually retrain your brain, body, and habit patterns so that you allow arousal to move through you, rather than being pulled along by it.”

There is one risk associated with edging and it comes in the form of its twisted twin the “ruined orgasm.” These happen when your orgasm is interrupted just as it begins its freefall. The body experiences the physical pulses and stimulation but without the climactic pleasure, leaving you frustrated and denied despite the physical element of relief.

To prevent ruined orgasms, build the pressure gradually and, if you get too close to the edge and fall off, do not stop stimulation, just enjoy the orgasm and edge another day. 

Genital differences

“For vulva owners, edging is most often associated with clitoral stimulation, but can also be combined with internal stimulation,” explained Worthington. “For penis-owners, edging can be practiced with penile stimulation, as well as prostate stimulation.”

Learning to edge may be easier for people with vaginas who can already achieve multiple orgasms but may take a little more practice for those who have more elusive climaxes. Introducing various toys, especially anything that vibrates or creates suction, is beneficial for all genders, however, these should not be relied upon to achieve control. 

For those with penises, often the most attractive benefit of edging is a longer-lasting pleasure. 

“When men ejaculate, their brain becomes unresponsive to sexual stimulation, so they are effectively on the bench when it comes to sex unless they are only stimulating their partner, and even then, they likely have less energy for this act,” said Play. “Instead of getting full on the appetizer at a 5-star all-you-can-eat Vegas buffet, you can stay hungry and keep your appetite to try far more dishes for far longer. It’s a way of increasing your capacity for satiation.”

Leveling up to partnered sex 

Edging with a partner usually requires a partner who already knows how to tap your buttons and while not impossible, being edged by or edging a new partner is trickier. Ultimately, communication is the master key. 

“When you’re stimulating someone else, you have to pay close attention, and have a solid method of communication in place, so that you don’t overstimulate them or take them too far,” said Worthington. “This is along with the fact that, even when you know your partner really well, it’s still hard to tell exactly where they are in the sexual response cycle. You have to go on body language, noises, and the like, which aren’t always the most reliable indicators. It takes some patience to get the timing right.”

Edging falls into the realm of kink and BDSM and plays with power dynamics, so it’s important to have a discussion about safe words, boundaries, and potential triggers. Keep in mind that edging may be overstimulating and make engaging in other sex afterward too exhausting or sensitive. Be patient with each other’s bodies, there is always more time to play. 

“This process can help both of you to slow down and really connect with each other and your bodies in a more sensual way,” Play explained. “Keep in mind that a major benefit of edging is that it can sensitize you to your pleasure. Creating intense sensation here isn’t the goal, but rather, getting acquainted with more and more subtlety of sensation.”

Before you begin, outline the sensations you want to focus on, like gentle clitoral stimulation or a teasing blow job, and keep checking in as the edging progresses. Alongside the obvious orgasmic benefits, edging forges a strong bond between partners, and mastering it opens new avenues of pleasure. The only question that remains is… do you think you have the discipline for it?