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As men learn early on, penises are unpredictable things—and sometimes, they’re too predictable. For some men who experience premature ejaculation (PE), the latter is a bothersome truth that can impede a good sex life, leading to a loss of confidence and maybe even the desire to avoid intimacy altogether. PE is when you ejaculate sooner than you or your partner would like. According to Seth Cohen, MD, a urologist with NYU Langone Health, PE can result from a genetic predisposition, or it can be a “learned” behavior. In either case, if you experience PE, you probably want to resolve it as quickly as possible. Several strategies are effective, and one of them is edging.
- Premature ejaculation (PE) is a common male sexual dysfunction.
- Edging is a technique that helps treat and prevent PE, with the goal of improving intimacy and one’s sex life.
- Edging, or orgasm control, can be performed solo or with a partner.
- The point of edging is to experience sexual stimulation until just before the point of orgasm, delaying ejaculation.
What is edging?
Also called “surfing,” “peaking,” “teasing,” or “orgasm control,” edging is the practice of bringing yourself right to the brink of climax, without going over.
Edging was described as “slow masturbation” in The New Joy of Sex. The technique is also mentioned in a few intriguing but perhaps excessively titled how-to books like The One-Hour Orgasm and Massive Extended Orgasm.
You don’t have to do it for an hour. Or orgasm for an hour. Or learn to have sex for an hour. (In fact, the average duration of penis-in-vagina sex is 5.4 minutes, and most women who have sex with men say their desired duration of penetration is 7 to 13 minutes.) The goal is just to prolong things a bit and increase your sexual stamina.
Edging can be helpful in dealing with premature ejaculation (PE). By edging, you’re basically getting to know your body better. The point is to recognize what it feels like when you’re right about to come, so you can slow down, back off, resume foreplay, have a light snack—whatever will delay your ejaculation until you and your partner are sexually satisfied.
How does edging work?
When edging, you stimulate yourself nearly to the “point of no return,” otherwise known as the end of the “plateau phase” of orgasmic response. The plateau phase is a pretty brief period of the sexual response cycle: It’s the point where, if sexual stimulation continues, you’re pretty sure you’re going to come. It extends right to the point when ejaculating is inevitable.
During an edging session, you stimulate yourself (or have a partner stimulate you). Before reaching the point of no return, you back off before letting yourself climax. You might downshift gears, so to speak, slowing down, or altering stimulation. Or pause and rest. Then you repeat the process if you’d like.
Types of edging
The stop-start method
The stop-start method is something you can practice with a partner, or solo as you masturbate. When you’re stimulating yourself and feel like you’re about to come, back off and pause completely, until the urge to ejaculate passes. Then continue stimulation. You can do this as many times as you’d like in one session. Over time, you’ll learn to recognize when you’re approaching “the point of no return,” so you can take a time out to regroup, then continue—and extend—sexual activity.
In this commonly recommended therapy for PE, you begin sexual activity as usual, until you feel almost ready to ejaculate. Then, have your partner squeeze the end of your penis, at the point where the head (glans) joins the shaft. Hold the squeeze for several seconds, until the urge to come retreats. You can do this several times in one session. Make sure you have a satisfying orgasm at the end.
“Ballooning” is a form of edging that incorporates kegel exercises, which are intended to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles. If those muscles are weak, they might impair your ability to delay ejaculation. Having stronger pelvic floor muscles can also improve the quality of your orgasms.
To identify your pelvic floor muscles, stop urination in midstream. To practice Kegels, tighten then pelvic floor muscles, hold the contraction, then relax.
When ballooning, you stimulate yourself to just before the point of no return. Then, as you back off, you perform Kegels and allow your erection to subside—or deflate if you will. Then you stimulate yourself back to full arousal and repeat the process.
Benefits of edging
When you practice edging to treat PE, you’re retraining your body to have sex in a more pleasurable way and improving your sexual health.
Several tools can support edging to treat PE.
Therapy and SSRIs
Some antidepressants known as SSRIs (or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) have the side effect of delaying ejaculation. As the acronym suggests, these medications prevent the brain from absorbing serotonin, the “feel-good” brain chemical. The more serotonin is present in your brain, the longer it can take you to come. SSRIs include sertraline, paroxetine, and fluoxetine.
To reduce sensitivity in your penis, enabling you to delay ejaculation, you can apply a product containing the numbing agents lidocaine or benzocaine—such as a cream, gel, or single-packet wipe—to your penis before you practice edging or have sexual intercourse.
Benzocaine and lidocaine have been in medical use since the early twentieth century, and they’re widely regarded as safe, as long as you use them as directed. Read more about benzocaine vs. lidocaine for PE here.
Using a vibrator or sex toy
You can incorporate a vibrator or sex toy (such as a masturbation tool like the Fleshlight) into edging. You and your partner could use sex toys on each other, or watch each other use them as you stimulate yourselves. This can make practice a bit more fun (and seem less like homework), ensure you stay aroused, and help you respond to varying types of stimulation.
Edging is also something you can perform on a partner who doesn’t have orgasm difficulties; building tension with extended foreplay, then repeatedly backing off before orgasm, can increase the intensity of the ultimate climax.