What Is Edging Sex?

Medically Reviewed by Carmelita Swiner, MD on July 07, 2023
3 min read

Edging is a method of stretching out how long it takes to reach orgasm, for one or both partners. Though it’s usually thought of as a technique for men to last longer, anyone can benefit from edging. Partners learn to communicate and completely stop sexual stimulation before orgasm. They can explore other ways to touch one another, allowing that partner to cool down before continuing. This not only delays climax but can make orgasms more intense when they finally happen.

If you want to explore edging during sex, communication with your partner is key. Knowing many cycles of teasing they can handle and how to touch them during a cool-down phase is vital to success. 

Some medical conditions affect ejaculation (the discharge of semen from the penis). These shouldn’t be confused with edging:

  • Premature ejaculation is when you reach orgasm very quickly. Causes range from genetic traits to anxiety. It happens to as many as 40% of people with a penis at some time.
  • Delayed orgasm, or anorgasmia, is when you can't reach orgasm  at all. This condition is rare and not well understood
  • Retrograde ejaculation is when muscles in your urethra fail to contract properly, causing semen to back up into your bladder. This is known as a dry orgasm because the climax is achieved with no visible ejaculate. It can result from nerve damage linked to other conditions like diabetes, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, spinal cord injuries, and some surgeries.

Edging, on the other hand, is a safe and healthy way to explore sex. It doesn’t cause any conditions or side effects. It can increase satisfaction, regardless of gender or sexual orientation, and can be practiced alone or during sex with a partner. Edging may focus on one or both partners and may be used to increase communication and intimacy.

First, decide whether you want to try edging alone or with a partner. Whichever way you want to try it, remember that getting to know your body is always a good thing. More intense orgasms are the icing on the cake. 

On Your Own

You can use your hands or toys to explore edging. No matter which way you do it, move slowly and deliberately, paying close attention to your body’s signals. When you feel like you’re close to orgasm, that’s your cue to slow down or stop completely. The next step is to cool down and rest to a point where your orgasm won't take over. Try breathing deeply or running your hands over your skin. Let your body simply enjoy a different form of touch. Think about what brought you close to orgasm, and note how your body feels. When you’re ready, you can start again and go through as many cycles as you like.

With a Partner

Edging with a partner can involve hands, mouths, sex organs, and toys. Talk about how to signal when one of you needs a break. It can be a word or a gesture, whatever works best. Experiment with changing positions or intensity when one of you gets close to orgasm. Switch from penetrative sex to touch, or from oral stimulation to using a toy. You can start with a couple of edging cycles, then work your way up to as many as you want. Use sensual massage on one another during breaks. The more cycles you go through, the more blood will flow into your pelvic area. This helps build excitement and can lead to more powerful orgasms.

Edging allows you to explore new areas of your relationship, find new ways to please yourself and your partner, and gives you more powerful orgasms. Letting yourself relax into the sensations of sex -- instead of simply working toward orgasm -- can open the door to a more playful, spontaneous relationship; bring you closer, emotionally, to your partner; and help you become a better lover.