Edging Isn't Just for People with Premature Ejaculation
About 10 years ago, Richard, a 22-year-old bisexual man from the United Kingdom, first discovered he received more enjoyment from masturbation if he stimulated himself until he got close to orgasm and backed off. At 17, Richard learned the term for this practice: edging.
Edging is essentially stopping sexual stimulation right before orgasm, according to Kelly Wise, Ph.D., L.C.S.W., a sex therapist in Brooklyn in New York City and the founder of Wise Therapy.
"It's an individual process of what gets people there, but the practice is trying to get as close as possible without tipping over into climax," he added.
Richard, who requested his full name not be used, has practiced edging more seriously during the past five years. Today, he is quite the enthusiast and even moderates the subreddit r/EdgingTalk, which features more than 63,000 members.
Richard, who goes by the Reddit username Just_for_fun_2323, said when he first got into edging, he masturbated just using his hand.
"I'd find something hot to watch and just enjoy the pleasure I could give myself until I simply couldn't take it any longer," he said. "Nowadays, I use lots of toys and different techniques. I'm far more sexually open, and my sexual confidence has had a huge boost as a result."
As for the physical benefits of edging he's experienced, Richard listed a few:
- Improved stamina
- Better orgasm control
- Increased pleasure
- Stronger erections
- Longer-lasting orgasms
- More powerful orgasms
He said he has enjoyed plenty of mental benefits, as well, including a boost in confidence, stress relief, heightened self-love and increased body positivity.
"The biggest thing I always stress to people is edging is a marathon, not a sprint," Richard explained. "Often, people will attempt edging for the first time, go way too fast and end up having an accidental orgasm. So I suggest taking it easy. Start slow and stay slow. The slower you go, the more control you have."
Experts tout edging's benefits
"Self-induced blue balls'' is what urologist Jessie N. Mills, M.D., calls edging. Despite giving it a less-than-appealing name, Mills sees the benefit of the practice for people looking to enhance their sexual experience. However, he does not find edging or the start-stop technique to be a particularly effective means of treating premature ejaculation, although some people do have success with it.
"The physiology of edging involves the parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous systems," said Mills, the director of the Men's Clinic at UCLA and author of the book "A Field Guide to Men's Health." Parasympathetic controls erections, while sympathetic controls ejaculation.
"The goal is to keep things parasympathetic as long as you can but get up to the point where you can get that sympathetic emission and then pull back," Mills continued. "The idea is you do that enough, it can lead to such an intense buildup in the muscles of the vas deferens that causes an ejaculation all the way up into the prostate and pelvic floor muscles. Once a guy gets the big payoff, it's a big payoff."
Mills added that people can achieve this same effect through Kegel exercises and muscle control without going through "self-induced blue balls."
Wise finds edging to be beneficial because it creates a mind-body connection.
"It's a mindfulness practice," he said. "It helps the mind and body build discipline, which is useful when we want to be able to last longer."
Edging can help provide people with longer, more intense orgasms, according to Namita Caen, Ph.D., a clinical sexologist and sex intimacy and relationship coach in the San Francisco Bay area.
"It helps to really get in touch with your own arousal cycle and to develop self-awareness around having a self-pleasure practice when perhaps you're curious about expanding and elongating the pleasure sensation," she said.
Caen cited the example of a male client she had who was depressed and wanted to connect more with his body. Edging was definitely helpful and empowering for the client, Caen said.
"It helped increase his mood and his self-esteem; it helped him to be able to feel more confident and connected to his body," she explained. "There is something to be said for addressing your health through the lens of sexual pleasure."
More tips from the pros
Caen advises people who are new to edging to be patient and take their time. She recommended not watching porn because it can be "incredibly distracting." Focus on your own sensual pleasure and make sure you're in a relaxing environment.
"Make sure you're not squeezing this in at an inopportune moment of the day," Caen said. "You're not trying to practice edging in the shower when you have 10 minutes to get to work."
Masturbation is often viewed as a goal-oriented process that's supposed to lead to orgasm. This thinking can get in the way of enjoyment, and people may want to reconsider their thoughts about masturbation and expand their definition of self-pleasure.
"Edging is about enjoyment in the moment and being present with sensation and pleasure," Caen said. "Edging is not about trying to get to an orgasm."
Wise recommended gradually increasing the length of your stop-start time if you are new to edging.
"Start by getting yourself close and then waiting 10 seconds, and then continuing stimulation," he said. "Then increase that time to 15 seconds, 20, etcetera."
According to Richard, the main goal is to focus on your pleasure so you feel when you're about to come.
"Keep it slow and at a steady pace," he said. "Practice, practice, practice."
If you accidentally orgasm, don't sweat it.
"Don't be disappointed if you accidentally push over the edge," Richard said. "Pick yourself back up and go for it again the next time you masturbate."
Practice edging with a partner
Edging doesn't have to be limited to masturbation; it can certainly be done with a partner, Caen said. Edging with a partner is "almost like a mini sex lab," she said.
"We're exploring the sensation of what it is to take ourselves along the waves of the arousal curve with the intention of riding that wave of pleasure without the goal of having an orgasm," Caen said.
Wise recommended practicing alone before trying edging with a partner, adding that it's best to start with fewer variables and then add more with practice.
But what if you want to try it with your partner and aren't sure how to bring it up?
Wise suggested using teasing as a way of flirting.
"Being in control is sexy, it allows us more power in the surrender, which can make the experience more profound," he said.
If there's an orgasm mismatch between partners, especially in heterosexual couples, edging can be beneficial, according to Mills.
"But it really then just becomes a way of building familiarity with your partner," he said. "My suspicion is most couples probably figured out ways for them to interact together so that they can have mutual stimulation and at least a relatively simultaneous orgasm based on positions and moves."
Richard recommended trying edging with a partner if the partner is comfortable with it.
"Edging with someone can bring an entirely new dynamic to it—new sensations, new ideas, new kinks, all kinds of wonderful, horny fun to be had," he said.