What Is "Edging," And Why Is It Awesome?

by Alanna Greco

If you’ve never heard of the term “edging” before, then get excited, because we’re about to tell you about a technique that results in stronger, more intense orgasms, and creates some sexual tension to boot.  

Let’s start with the basics: What is edging? It’s a method that involves bringing yourself almost to the point of orgasm (the edge, if you will), backing off—either by pausing sex completely or decelerating stimulation—and then getting yourself to the point of orgasm again. You can bring yourself to the cusp once or repeatedly, and when you finally let yourself go, the orgasm should be more powerful. 

But, of course, there’s more to the practice than just that. Now that you’re intrigued, let’s dive into what else there is to know about edging.

Here’s why edging works

Edging intensifies your orgasms for a few reasons, and one is simply because by delaying your orgasm, it takes longer. “The most important element, actually, is probably time, and the effects that extended stimulation can have,” explains Dr. Carol Queen, staff sexologist at Good Vibrations. “Unlike ‘hot-to-trot’ masturbation or partner sex that lasts only a few minutes, edging is practically defined by being drawn out, and this allows arousal to build.” And more arousal results in a more enjoyable orgasm. 

Amy Levine, sex coach and founder of Ignite Your Pleasure, adds that “the idea of stopping and starting allows you to tease your partner by playing with their levels of sexual tension,” which can lead to a bigger orgasm. Plus, Levine says, “there's also a psychological perk: Experimenting with going to the brink and back, you reap the reward of the possibility of a more intense outcome. It's risk/reward at it's finest.”

How to master edging 

As wonderful as edging is, it’s not a foolproof technique. The first few times you try it, you might find yourself losing your orgasm after you back off, accidentally having an orgasm before you were ready, or not being able to get aroused again after the first deceleration. But don’t get disheartened—it just might take some practice. 

Get a sense of your partner’s and your sexual response patterns and triggers. Figure out what you respond to and when you’re most likely to come.

When it comes to edging’s best practices, the main thing Levine recommends is tuning in to what’s happening in your body. “Awareness of the senses in the moment—most importantly the physical sensations and visual and auditory cues— is what you need to master in order to know when to edge,” she says. 

You’ll want to get a sense of your partner’s and your sexual response patterns and triggers. Figure out what you respond to and when you’re most likely to come. “You want to know the flow of the stages and what to look for, how it feels and when,” Levine explains, “so you'll be aware of when you or your partner are at the spot before the ‘point of no return’”—aka the point when climaxing is inevitable. 

And don’t be afraid to experiment with what works best for you. Even though edging is largely defined as pausing at the brink of an orgasm, maybe stopping doesn’t do it for you. Levine recommends trying to change your motions, positions, and anything else when you’re at the cusp to see if you get a better pay off.  

And yeah, you should totally also try it while masturbating 

The technique is by no means only for partnered sex! Playing with edging while you’re masturbating is just as effective. Queen recommends taking your time while trying to edge solo and suggests, “if you usually spend five minutes masturbating, plan to take at least 30, more if you can. Involve your whole body—this isn’t only about rubbing or stroking your genitals, but becoming aware of your erotic experience on a whole-body level. You might find yourself touching and stroking more slowly.” 

If you’re using a vibrator, Levine suggests changing the speed or mode when you get to the edge of an orgasm. Or if your style is more hands-on, you can try switching up your strokes. Breaking away from your routine will not only help you edge, but it also might lead to discovering fun, new ways to pleasure yourself. 

There are more benefits than just stronger orgasms

While sure, a more intense orgasm is motive enough for many of us to try edging, there are other reasons to introduce the practice into your bedroom. Edging translates into longer sex, which, besides being an obvious perk, is also beneficial for someone who comes earlier then they’d like. “Part of edging is coming right up to orgasm and then backing down a little to extend the session,” Queen says, and this can help a partner to last longer, especially when they start to “recognize upcoming orgasm and control it.”

Queen adds that overall, edging “lets you become extra-aware of arousal and your specific responses, which can enhance all kinds of sex, too.” In essence, getting to know your body and what you like better is never a bad idea!

Illustration by Maria Ines Gul

Alanna Greco is a writer and editor living in New York.