There are many fun ways to spice up your sex life and discover what turns you on, from playing with sex toys to trying new positions in bed. If you’re looking for another technique to dial up the heat, you may want to explore edging—the process of intentionally prolonging orgasm—to create steamy tension and help you explore the boundaries of your sexual arousal.
“Edging often refers to bringing yourself to the brink of orgasm multiple times, but without allowing yourself to go over the edge,” says Jess O’Reilly, PhD, a sexologist and the resident sex expert at Astroglide. “The idea is that the build-up of tension can lead to a more intense and more pleasurable release when you finally reach the orgasm,” she explains.
Similar to practices like tantric sex, edging allows you to tune into your sexual energy and become more aware of what’s happening in your body. Having an orgasm isn’t the only way to experience pleasure, of course, but edging can be a delicious way to enhance foreplay or simply bring your arousal to new heights. Edging can also be used in a kinky context with a partner; for instance, during BDSM, power play, or as a form of orgasm control, O’Reilly says.
If you’re curious about trying edging solo or with someone else, here’s how it works, whether or not it can lead to stronger orgasms, and how to try it safely, according to sexperts.
What Is Edging & How Does It Work?
Ann Russo, LCSW, says that edging involves “building up to orgasm” and then slowing down or taking breaks before you or your partner reach climax. The process, sometimes called “surfing” or “peaking,” can increase blood flow to the genitals to enhance arousal. “This can create a lot of sexual tension and excitement, which can lead to a really intense and pleasurable orgasm,” Russo explains. “It’s like a rollercoaster ride for your body.”
You might try edging while masturbating or by having your partner tease you during sex. The tension-building can last as long as you’d like—and orgasm doesn’t even have to be the final objective or outcome. “Edging is sometimes done to intensify an orgasm by making it feel more powerful, while others use it to deny gratification,” says Lisa Lawless, PhD, a sexual wellness expert and CEO of Holistic Wisdom.
Edging can also help you become more present during sex. “With edging, you are building more self-awareness around your body and its orgasmic states,” says Marla Renee Stewart, MA, a sexologist and the resident sexpert for Lovers. “You can be more present in your body, understand how your breathing contributes to orgasm, and ultimately, mentally log what touches feel right for your body to come to the edge of orgasm.”
Can Edging Lead To Better Orgasms?
Sex isn’t a one-size-fits-all experience, and orgasm isn’t necessarily accessible for everyone. That said, many experts believe that edging can potentially lead to better sex and stronger orgasms, if that’s your thing. “Neurotransmitters (dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin) and hormones (testosterone and estrogen) are released, enhancing pleasure and desire,” Lawless says. These effects, combined with muscle contractions in the body, hot anticipation and delayed gratification can make the Big O feel more amplified.
However, edging may not be a fit for everyone. “Edging can go either way when it comes to orgasms; some folks report feeling stronger orgasms while others report disappointment around the type of orgasm they receive,” Stewart explains. “It is all dependent on the mind-state, behavior, breathing and other factors that may enhance or suppress their orgasmic state.”
Lawless adds that in some cases, edging may actually make orgasm more difficult. “For some people, this provides prolonged pleasure, increased sexual stamina and more intense orgasms, while in others, it may feel frustrating and make orgasm difficult to achieve after too long a period has passed,” she says. Just like any sexual preference, your body is unique—so if you don’t derive pleasure from edging, that’s perfectly OK.
How To Try Edging Solo Or With A Partner
If you’re brand new to edging, trying it solo first might make the process less intimidating. “You might rile yourself up (with your hands, toys, etc.), but then stop or slow down when you feel as though you are about to climax,” O’Reilly says. “Breathe deeply and slowly as you move to a less stimulating technique or area until the urge to orgasm subsides, and feel free to repeat this process several times.”
You may also enjoy a method O’Reilly calls “hierarchal edging,” in which you imagine a numerical scale (zero being no arousal, 10 being orgasm), then elevating your arousal back and forth between different numbers until you reach your peak. “Of course, you cannot perfectly assess arousal levels and it doesn’t have to be an incremental climb,” O’Reilly explains. “Experiment with different levels and approaches to see what works for you.”
When practicing edging on a partner, O’Reilly suggests paying attention to their physical and verbal cues and having fun with it. “You might pleasure your partner until they give you a signal that orgasm is about to happen…at this point, you can stop, slow down, or move to a different type of stimulation,” O’Reilly says. “Then, bring them back to the brink of orgasm and repeat several times.”
The bottom line: Edging can be a sexy way to spice up your sex life and amplify your orgasms. But if it doesn’t get you off, that’s OK, too. Establishing clear boundaries, consent and safety are key when trying any new sex move, so you’ll want to chat with your partner beforehand or maybe consult a sex therapist to feel more comfortable. When you’re ready to try edging, remember to relax, take breaks when you need and always ensure that you’re comfortable and safe.