You may have read about edging and sex before and thought to yourself, “edging...like edging toward the end of the bed?” Does it mean you’re on edge before getting into bed with your partner? Does it have to do with geometry, perhaps? And the answer is D) None of the above. Edging actually refers to an orgasming technique that you may or may not have been doing already. And if you haven’t, then read on. We’re going to explain exactly what edging means and different ways you can try it out for yourself (with or without a partner!).
What exactly is “edging”?
Edging, or orgasm control is a practice done during solo or partnered sexual activity, in which a person brings themselves (or is brought) nearly to the brink of orgasm — aka the “edge” — and stops before the climax. This cycle is usually repeated several times before the person allows themselves to orgasm. Edging is meant to make orgasms longer, stronger, more explosive. “Think of it as endurance training,” says Danny Garrett, certified sexual wellness expert. Basically, it’s a marathon, not a sprint.
If you can have an orgasm, you can ride the edge!
How does edging work?
“The key here is to sustain the prolonged state of arousal, nearing orgasm, without falling off ‘the edge,” says Janielle Bryan, MPH CHES, sexuality educator and creator of the sexual health pop-up, The Sex Exchange. “This can be done by keeping the actions constant, toning down the stimulation gradually, or stopping completely. This really varies from person to person.”
Note that orgasm can be experienced in a number of ways, so the more familiar you are with your arousal and genitals, the better you can navigate edging. It’s important to really get to know your orgasm and what that moment — that just before the edge moment — feels like, and what you need to do to reel it back in.
“As you get closer to orgasm, [one might] pant and feel hot, your body will be tighter, maybe you’ll experience increased vaginal lubrication or pre-cum, this is when you’re about to climax,” explains Sophie McGrath, head of Customer Satisfaction at Adult Toy Megastore. “This is when you’ll want to stop,” she advises.
Edging is a practice that can be enjoyed both solo or partnered. “Your partner can stimulate your genitals or you can masturbate together, or it can be done through solo-masturbation,” Garrett tells O.school.
What are the benefits of edging?
Treatment method for premature ejaculation
The practice of edging was originally conceptualized in 1956 by James H. Seman as a treatment option for premature ejaculation (PE). He developed the stop-start method specifically so that people with penises experiencing distress around their PE could learn how to delay their orgasms over time. This method has been proven to help people with penis maintain a state of arousal, and erection, comfortably, for longer before reaching orgasm.
Longer, stronger orgasms
Edging can help enhance *any* type of orgasm. It trains the body and mind to stay focused, in a more heightened state of arousal for longer; and in addition, the more explosive and powerful the eventual orgasm becomes.
Studies have shown that new neural pathways can be opened up, strengthened, or remapped when you experiment with new ways to orgasm. “Every time you engage in sexual activity to orgasm, you’re teaching your body that this is a path to follow to climax,” McGrath tells O.school. These pathways make those orgasms easier to access in the future.
Promotes body awareness and communication
Edging can help you understand your body better. Through edging, you begin to develop a deeper understanding of your stimulates, your erogenous zones, your PNR (point of no return) and your arousal patterns, illuminating the path to your best orgasm.
“There’s a mental component to it as well,” Bryan asserts, “edging with a partner takes a lot of focus and communication from all parties.”
How do you actually do it? Here are 3 edging methods:
The stop-start method
”Stop start involves stimulation of the genitals (or other erogenous zones), nearly to the point of orgasm, then stopping the stimulation until the feeling of approaching orgasm fades,” Tony Lagemann, marketing representative for the sexual wellness brand, Promescent, tells O.school.
People with penises and people with vulvas can practice the stop-start technique — both while masturbating and during partnered sex — experimenting with any variety of stimulation methods, oral, digital play, penetration, with toys, etc. For edging during partnered sex, determine a word, phrase or sign with your partner to communicate when to ease off.
You can also try these stop-start methods with anal orgasms and prostate orgasms.
The squeeze method
People with penises can also utilize the squeeze method to prevent themselves from finishing, wherein when nearing the point of no return (PNR), they grip the area of the penis where the head meets the shaft, squeezing for several seconds firmly, until the feeling of going over the edge subsides, without losing the full erection or arousal, then begin the process again. Rinse (not literally), and repeat.
The ballooning method
Alternatively, if you have a penis you can incorporate this method: find and massage a "sweet spot" on the penis that is particularly sensitive (often the frenulum) without stroking the whole penis. Rub only this area for long enough to get erect, and then to feel close to orgasm. Then stop and pause, allow arousal to subside. After a break repeat the process one or two more times. This builds you ability to last longer, and intensifies the sensation when you do reach orgasm.
Some extra tips for trying edging
“To make it more interesting,” Bryan tells O.school, “incorporate other sensations and erogenous zones — sex toys, mouth, hand, nipples, etc.” You can also try different positions, sensation play, or some light bondage.
Additionally, you can upgrade your edging with sex tech. Toys that offer biofeedback (like Lioness) allow you to visualize, assess, and track your orgasms, giving you real data on your edging journey. For a cheaper alternative, track them manually at Track My Woohoo or using the Premature Ejaculation App.
“When exploring edging, it is much easier to be focused and present when you have time and you’re in a comfortable environment,” McGrath offers. He explains that listening to some music, reading erotica, or watching some ethical porn you enjoy can help you get in the mood.
Also, as with almost literally every sexual activity, lube is always a welcome addition to the edging party.
Edging can be a fun activity to explore, and whether it works for you or not, there’s no harm and nothing to lose. At the very least you will have strengthened your mind-body connection and improved your communication skills with sexual partners. A win-win!