Guest written by Rain Andersen (@wearenotfriends_) a veteran sworker with eight years in adult entertainment and three years working for Lovers.
We tend to put orgasms on a pedestal when it comes to defining our sexual experiences. Edging, surfing, or peaking is a sexual technique that involves the intentional delay of orgasm to bring attention to the moments leading up to climax. One way to improve the strength, intensity, and length of your orgasms is to walk the edge of your sexual response cycle.
With a good edging technique, we can optimize our sexual experiences and gain insight about our body’s response to pleasure. Better yet, we can use these techniques to understand our partners bodies and to control their pleasure from start to finish!
The Sexual Response Cycle has four phases. We’ll discuss each stage our bodies experience on its journey to orgasm.
By understanding how our bodies react to pleasure, we can take better control of it.
Our pleasure story begins with EXCITEMENT. Often times sex, and we've including masturbation here, begins with desire. Your body and mind will partner to prepare your physical body for sex.
In the early stages of arousal, you’ll experience an increase in heart rate, breathing rate, and blood pressure. While the penis expands to prepare for penetration, the vulva retracts. The vagina will shift in shape to make room for penetration.
Next comes the plateau. Master’s and Johnson refer to this stage as the orgasmic platform, to describe the moments leading up to your climax. In this stage, the testicles will rise closer to the body, the vaginal canal will shrink in size, and the clitoris will attempt to retract under the clitoral hood due to increased sensitivity. This is a key moment in the edging process, and one we will want to be able to identify. Look to vocal cues, muscle contractions, or increased lubrication as an indicator that you have entered the plateau stage.
The plateau stage culminates when we reach orgasm. For individuals with vulvas, we experience a set of micro contractions in our pelvic floor lasting between 5 and 60 seconds. Many vulva owners will report contractions lasting longer and feeling weaker with each successive squeeze; the average number of contractions sitting between 3 and 15 per orgasm. Individuals with penises will have between 4 and 8 contractions from penial stimulation, and up to 12 contractions with prostate stimulation.
The sexual response cycle ends with the refractory period- a term that is used to describe the bodies return to its pre-orgasmic state. Once climax has occurred, our bodies begin to return to their normal color, shape, and size. Individuals with penises have an average refractory period of 30 minutes, which may increase or decrease depending on age. During this period, it can be difficult if not impossible to maintain an erection. Individuals with vulvas are reported to have short refractory periods, if at all. This is what allows vulva owners to experience multiple orgasms, as the clitoris can remain sensitive to touch long after climax has occurred.
How Can I Surf the Pleasure Wave?
Now that we have a working understanding of the sexual response cycle, we can begin to look at some techniques to elongate the peaks of our sexual encounters. Each of these techniques should be utilized at the cusp of orgasm for the most effective results. I recommend experimenting with controlled orgasms during masturbation so that you can identify these stages more reliably. Establishing your own sexual response cycle can help you to recognize the physical and verbal queues in your partners and provide a more informed edging experience.
Start/Stop: The start and stop method is one of the most effective techniques for edging a partner. Have your partner indicate to you when stimulation should begin and end. As stimulation increases and your partner nears climax, bring touch to a dramatic halt. This sudden lack of sensation can cause touch to intensify when it is reintroduced. When reintroducing touch to a penis, I’d encourage you to focus stimulation on the frenulum (the fine vein that runs vertically down the head of the shaft). Use a combination of slow, firm strokes with the pad of your thumb, or equally paced licks to keep the area lubricated and well stimulated. For individuals with vulvas, you can reintroduce sensation by adding firm but slow licks along the surface of the clitoris or a gentle and rhythmic suckling. This technique can also be utilized with sex toys by providing direct and powerful stimulation to the genitals before removing or powering down the toy. I love this particular method of edging because it relies on communication between you and your partner.
The Main Squeeze: Individuals with penises may require more than a few seconds to delay orgasm. In these instances, it can be more effective to employ a gentle squeezing technique to keep climax at bay. Hold on to the head of the penis, with your thumb over the frenulum. Apply gentle pressure, squeezing for one to two seconds before releasing your grip. Repeat as needed. This technique can be even more explosive if it’s introduced at the end of your edging session. The goal of edging is to prevent or deny orgasm as you or your partner come closer to climax. Edging should be done repeatedly and become more and more difficult to hold back with each denial.
The Redirect: Distracting your partner (or yourself) can be an incredibly efficient way of exploring edge play. Avoid baseball game analogies and try asking your partner to maintain eye contact. This will split their focus between you and the stimulation your providing, creating a layered experience.
You can redirect sensation to other parts of the body, as well. Stop stimulation to the genitals to resume touch along the chest, back, or thighs to draw out your pleasure experience. These areas of the body are called "erogenous zones" and contain bundles of sensitive nerve endings!
Balloon Animals: Ballooning is an edging technique that can be utilized during penetration. The individual being entered can stop penetrative motion in order to flex their Kegel or sphincter muscles. Clench for one to two seconds before releasing, and repeat as needed. This technique allows us to experiment with the same squeezing motions discussed above, with a Look-Ma-No-Hands approach. While this method may require more than a few pelvic floor exercises to pull off, it can allow partners to participate in the edging experience in a completely unique way.
Tantric Visualization: Edging takes its roots in tantric sex. Edging, like tantra, uses the foundation of slow and intentional stimulation to intensify your orgasms. Many practitioners of tantra will tell you that this is the key to a full body orgasm. Tantra professionals use a visualization technique to help bring you to the peak of pleasure. Take a deep breath on the cusp of climax and visualize your orgasm moving from deep inside you, making its way up your urethra. Have your partner lightly stimulate your genitals during this process before resuming direct touch. Repeat as desired.
These five edging techniques will get you started on your journey into longer, more fulfilling orgasms. Whether you are looking for a way to pace out your play, or introduce a new challenge in bed, edging teaches us the skills to get there. Make space for pleasure this year by introducing a little edge play to your life!