This article is written in partnership with Je Joue—they’re dedicated to sexual pleasure and empowerment. We’re honored to work with them. ~ ed.
Enough with the orgasm talk, already.
It’s time to focus on the pleasure of, well, anticlimactic pleasure—sorta.
Somewhere between 11 and 41 percent of women can’t orgasm. (1)
It’s called anorgasmia, and it’s not a question of what we’re doing or not doing, or if we’ve tried this thing or that; some women just have delayed, infrequent, or no orgasms. And actually, it affects men, too (on a lesser scale). (2)
I remember thinking, when a friend first told me she was in this bucket, “What even is the point of sex outside of procreation, then?” My impulse as a woman who’s been climaxing with myself since the age of 5 was to give her a bunch of recommendations to try—toys, positions, fantasies.
I was desperate to find something to help her “get there,” as if orgasm were some prized destination.
Newsflash: You haven’t “failed” if you didn’t reach orgasm or bring them to it.
As I’ve aged, and struggled a bit between a couple of relationships with different sex styles, what I’ve come to wonder is if maybe we who focus on the big O are the ones who are missing out.
Maybe pleasure without orgasm is the true ultimate destination. I mean, isn’t sex and masturbation supposed to be an ultimate form of enjoyment, connection, and presence (if not intentionally casual, carnal, and delicious)?
My friends at Je Joue, a luxury adult toy company known for their low-frequency, ultra-rumbly vibrators (my toy drawer favorite), had a novel suggestion for a rewarding play practice that works well for both people who can orgasm and those who do not.
Edging: An intro to surfing the ledge of your pleasure
Edging enables us to remove the pressure of orgasm, and forces us to focus on what we really enjoy; it’s an inclusive practice.
With edging, we purposely ditch the orgasm—over and over again.
The process looks like bringing yourself to the metaphorical “edge” before you climax (or achieve the highest point of pleasure you experience), and bringing yourself down a few notches—only to build it up all over again.
Although the process has recently become quite trendy as a way to have a “more intense” orgasm, it’s been around for at least half a century and was originally a treatment for premature ejaculation.
But even better, holistically, edging can be implemented in the bedroom as a mindfulness practice that helps us become more aware of our sexual responses either alone or with a partner, whether orgasm is on the table or not.
When we decide to start an edging practice, we inevitably become more aware of the four stages of arousal:
Excitement, plateau, orgasm (or not) & resolution.
For people who do not orgasm, that third phase is simply missing. But that doesn’t mean that the pleasure has to be—for any of us. And that’s what edging teaches us.
During the excitement phase, your skin starts to flush, your heartbeat gets faster, and blood starts to flow quickly down to the penis, clitoris, or vagina. In people with vaginas, things down south get wet, and in people with penises, the scrotum withdraws.
From there, after a bit of pleasurable play, you hit your plateau. Everything in phase one intensifies. Muscles pulse tighter and faster, the heart races.
If we’re able to orgasm, without awareness, we might miss out on the opportunity to play with our edge. Our plateau phase can spike rapidly into the orgasm phase of arousal, and that’s clearly not the point here.
The goal is to find the apex, the tippity-top of the peak right between plateau and orgasm (or resolution for those who are anorgasmic). That’s where we all have the opportunity to dive in and take stock of all the sweet things that do it for us.
If you’re interested in edging, though, it’s super important to start by putting a big emphasis on observing the sensations you feel right before orgasming, while keeping yourself in that interesting little gray area between the second and third arousal phases, exploring all its shades.
The key is to listen to your body and come to intimately know your signs. Here’s why that’s important.
Sexual wellness is a huge part of our overall wellness. I can’t say this enough; it’s in almost every sexual article I write. But it’s true. And when we feel embarrassment of how our bodies perform (or don’t) during sex, we’re less likely to discuss issues with medical professionals or our partners about what’s going on.
With edging, we can learn more about what happens with our bodies as we pursue pleasure. With more information, we’re likely to have more confidence to approach someone with questions or issues in our sex life.
That translates into better sex and better sex translates into better health.
So, here’s how to start “living on the edge (oh yeah!)”
Edging may take trial and error, and that’s okay. That’s kinda what this whole experience is about, isn’t it?
Still, if we’re the kind of person who has adopted a pretty standard go-to experience that we’re used to running through on autopilot, a practice like this can be uncomfortable and challenging. We might need a few tips to help us get off on our merry little way.
Here are the six steps to riding your edge:
1. Make the Space.
Whether solo or partnered, you’re going to want to set the mood for a practice like this. There’s nothing worse than having a whole bunch of things on our minds, from that distraction of that one pet peeve going on in the room (open closet doors for me), to wondering if we’ll be interrupted in the middle of the act (kids, anyone?).
And then there’s the possible discomfort that might be there already if you’re about to touch yourself and have shame surrounding that, or are feeling vulnerable in going out of your comfort zone and trying edging out with a partner.
So, slowly ease into this practice by reflecting on past sexual experiences enjoyed within your space. Note the things going on in the room that did it for you, and what served as a distraction. Prepare your space in a way that features more of what does it for you and less of what doesn’t. Then…
2. Get in the Mood
Start indulging in the things that help to get you boiling and bothered. What gets you hard or wet?
If you haven’t spent a lot of time getting to know your own body, you may not even know, and that’s okay too. We’re here to find exactly what gets you to the outskirts of “there.”
So, try to relax and get into a sense of play surrounding this new experiential environment and note what really feels and sounds and smells and tastes good in the moment.
3. Masturbate yourself, get masturbated, or full on do the damn thing.
Go to friggin town. Je Joue has a number of toys that can do it for us in a number of ways, whether you’re just looking for:
>> Clitoral stimulation (TK percent of women can’t come without a little play with our pearls),
>> Blended stimulation (simultaneously arousing the deeper portion of our clitoris, also known as our g-zone, and the outer “button” we’re so used to toggling), or
>> A little A(nal) play (in that case, a vibrating, phone-controlled Nuo butt plug might be fun).
My personal favorite is the Mimi. Its shape and various edges are perfect for—well, edging—as I play with the entire surface of my vulva. I enjoy the Mimi whether briefly exploring the plains of my mons pubis, the slot canyon between my labia minora, or rousing the little beastess from her cave in my clitoral hood.
The rumbly sensations of the lower settings get everything really going, and the higher ones bring me right to that edge. When I want a little dual action—to feel real good from the inside, out—I reach for my Hera Flex for customized curve and clitoral pressure to hit just the right spots.
I kid you not, these are my very favorite playmates. Whether solo or partnered up with my honey, these are my steadfast go-tos.
When you feel like you’re about to climax, or when things are getting pretty good (for the anorgasmic person), either stop or significantly slow all motion, depending on how sensitive you are.
If your eyes were closed, open them. If you were holding your breath, breathe. Bring things down at least two or three notches but don’t let that energy completely die out.
5. Notice and reminisce.
Take some time to note the things that are fading as you come down. Is your heart slowing? Is there a pulse that’s still there and aching for more but pounding less and less?
Now, look back on the things that got you excited and built the pleasure as you ramped up toward that pinnacle. Was that kiss on the neck like an electrical current straight to your genital wiring? Was it when you or your partner held your toy or their penis at the very entrance of you, applying just the tiniest bit of pressure to wake you up and literally wet your appetite?
As you note what worked for you, you might notice you’re getting worked up again. And that’s exactly what you’re here for.
6. Touch and (g)O.
As you start to feel that pulse pick up again in your chest and down below, start to touch yourself again. Maybe you like nipple play, do that.
Hint: Je Joue’s rabbit bullet brings good vibes up top (and down below, if you wish).
Start repeating steps 1 through 3 again. If you’d like, you can also repeat step four to get the heat really rising. There’s no limit to how many times you can bring yourself to the edge, or just to the highest point of your own threshold of pleasurable play, before jumping off.
When you’re ready, and you just can’t take putting it off anymore, let it go and allow yourself to climax. Come. Pay close attention to the feeling and see if edging made any difference in how much pleasure you feel.
Just the tip(s) for the people out there with penises (3):
Add a pinch.
Right before you orgasm, pinch the head of your penis to stop your orgasm. Wait 30 seconds before working yourself up again. Repeat as desired before letting yourself come.
Friend-zone your solo-play peak.
If you struggle with premature ejaculation, give ballooning a shot by finding a single, super-sensitive spot on your penis and stimulating it until you’re hard. Just before you’re about to come, stop touching yourself—at all. Let yourself get a little soft and then work yourself up the same way and in the same spot. Repeat this process but do not let yourself come. I repeat: do not let yourself come.
Ballooning is said to train you to control when you orgasm, so refraining from orgasm is key to making this exercise work.
There’s an absolute pleasure to be had in not orgasming. The trick lies in presence and awareness, in taking note of those moments when something feels so good, we are on the edge of ecstasy.
Afterall, you wouldn’t likely go visit the Grand Canyon for the first time, run as fast as you could from the car to the canyon ledge and just jump without looking at the expansive and beautiful scenery around you first.
Even if you were the adventurer who might do so in a squirrel suit or some other extreme sport, you’d first study the landmarks to approach and avoid. And that’s what edging is all about: taking in the scenery of our pleasure, charting our course towards, and discovering our boundaries—either so we can better understand and enjoy pushing against them to the best of our ability, or so we can find new and exciting ways to push beyond.
You don’t have to come every time. You don’t even have to come at all, ever. But you really should allow yourself to enjoy it whenever you don’t.
“Just take a minute & catch the vibe.”
Play with dual stimulation.
2. HERA FLEX
Enjoy customized pleasure.
Make the most of "me" time.
4. MIMI SOFT
Vibe yourself softly.
A Nuo type of pleasure (for him or her)
6. RABBIT BULLET
Ears to your pleasure: