When we think of orgasm, we often think of release, letting go, and letting our bodies fully experience all the enjoyment that goes hand in hand with climax. Surrendering control and getting lost in overwhelming pleasure is part of the magic of orgasm. However, orgasming way too early (through rapid ejaculation) or way too late (delay ejaculation) is what some would consider a sexual problem. Whether the ejaculation problems are caused by performance anxiety or other reasons, at times like these, don't you wish you could learn how to control orgasm? Speaking of control, though, the act (or art) of orgasm control has multiple benefits and can even open the door to even more pleasure.
Read on to learn all about orgasm control, what it is, how it works, and what benefits (and potential drawbacks) come with it.
WHY WOULD YOU WANT TO CONTROL YOUR ORGASM?
There are several reasons individuals or couples might play with orgasm control. They might do it to extend the duration of sex or to pump up the intensity of sexual intercourse as the practice can intensify the experience in general and the eventual orgasm specifically.
Additionally, folks might practice orgasm control to help avoid premature ejaculation or to build some of the sexual confidence that can come from understanding one’s body and orgasms and being able to manipulate them to fit the activity at hand.
Orgasm control is not limited to partnered play. Individuals might choose to practice it on their own for pleasure or to learn about their bodies and build sexual endurance.
UNDERSTANDING THE ORGASM PROCESS
If you want to control your orgasms, it can be helpful to understand the stages of arousal involved in the orgasm process. That way, you can learn when to stop and start your stimulation. There are typically four stages of arousal, but the sensations one feels during those stages can differ from person to person.
The Four Stages of Arousal
1. Excitement. During this stage, you might feel your heart beat faster. Your muscles might become tense, and your skin may flush. As all that happens, blood rushes to the genitals. This is when you might notice the vagina lubricating (getting”wet”), and the scrotum pulling up towards the body. At this stage, sensory play during sex aids a lot in boosting sexual desire. You can try sensory play during sex to aid in foreplay.
2. Plateau. This stage is when you are on the expressway to orgasm. All of the stuff from the “excitement” stage is still happening, and it grows in intensity as you begin to approach orgasms. The pleasurable sensation all over your body is on overload during this stage.
3. Orgasm. The big O! Orgasm consists of a variety of muscular and nerve responses that can trigger a euphoric feeling and ejaculation from the penis or increased vaginal lubrication.
4. Resolution. After an orgasm has occurred, the body returns to its non-aroused state. Blood leaves the genitals, and the heart rate returns to normal. This marks the beginning of what is known as the refractory period. The refractory period is a chunk of time when the body cannot become aroused again. Its length varies from person to person and can be a couple of minutes to multiple days. People with an active sex drive seemingly have a shorter refractory period than most.
Now that we are clear on the phases of the orgasm experience, we can pinpoint the “plateau” phase where one should prepare to slow down or cease stimulation to prevent sexual climax until they are ready to climax. The idea is to allow the body to experience the pleasant sensations of the plateau phase without allowing it to tip over into the orgasm phase. So, how do you do that? So glad you asked!
HOW CAN YOU DELAY ORGASM?
On paper, the process of orgasm control is actually a fairly simple one consisting of four basic steps:
1. Provide sexual stimulation. Whether manually, through sex toys, oral sex, or with a sexual partner.
2. Next step is orgasm denial. What is orgasm denial? It’s when you lessen the intensity of that stimulation (or cut it off entirely) just before orgasm occurs. This can help prolong the sexual experience.
3. After a short break, bring back or increase the intensity of the stimulation of your sexual partner.
4. Repeat these steps in cycles.
In practice, it can involve different steps and techniques depending on whether you are practicing solo or with a partner and based on what you enjoy and find works for you.
If you are practicing orgasm control solo, you are in charge of your stimulation, so you can decide how and when to pull back. Additionally, you can experiment with different methods. For example, some folks with penises take a manual approach to stopping orgasm with something called the “squeeze method,” which involves literally squeezing the tip of the penis to stop ejaculation. This process correlates and can be aided with the practice of wearing cock rings. Anyway, for solo orgasm control, it’s all up to you!
If you are practicing orgasm control with a partner, the first step is communication. As with any other sexual activity, you should discuss orgasm control with partners before trying it, and everyone needs to enthusiastically consent to engage in it. Once you agree about trying orgasm control together, you still need to communicate. Discuss having a signal or safe word (something you wouldn’t normally say during sex like “kumquat”) to communicate readiness to orgasm and remember to listen to each other. Practically speaking, if you are engaging in orgasm control with a partner, you might need to change your position or intensity to prevent orgasm.
When you are ready to orgasm, go for it! In partnered play, communicate to your partner that you are ready to climax (or have them communicate it to you), and if you are practicing solo, you can let yourself orgasm whenever you are ready.
BENEFITS OF DELAYING ORGASM
There are several benefits to the practice of orgasm control. According to the International Society for Sexual Medicine , orgasm control and “edging” (coming to the brink of orgasm and then ceasing or lessening stimulation to prevent orgasm) can intensify the pleasure of sexual activities by increasing excitement and building to a more satisfying orgasm.
Orgasm control can extend the length of sexual encounters, which can be preferable for some folks. It can be beneficial for helping people who deal with premature ejaculation. Additionally, orgasm control can be an excellent tool for partners who want to learn about each other’s preferences. Repeating cycles of orgasm control can offer helpful insights into a partner’s sexual triggers and provide the opportunity to explore different activities. In BDSM, you can also your knowledge to force orgasm. What is a forced orgasm? It’s basically making a partner undergo things that are seemingly against their wishes but are already negotiated between two consenting parties beforehand.
Finally, orgasm control can be a real sexual confidence builder. Someone concerned about their sexual stamina or ability to orgasm might find that the practice helps them last longer and be more familiar with what works for their body. Newer couples who may still be nervous can use it as a tool to build their sexual repertoire together without racing to orgasm.
Some people may benefit from incorporating orgasm control into their sexual activities.
ARE THERE DOWNSIDES TO DELAYING ORGASM?
Generally speaking, orgasm control is safe and unlikely to cause lasting side effects. That said, there are some things some folks worry might happen when engaging in edging, so let’s talk about them!
The internet is rife with folks talking about how practicing orgasm control or edging could impact future orgasms. The main issues that come up are confusing orgasm control with something called Delayed Ejaculation, which is a medical condition in which a person with a penis needs more than 30 minutes of sexual stimulation in order to reach orgasm or, in some cases, cannot orgasm at all. Orgasm control differs from Delayed Ejaculation in that it is an activity you choose to engage in rather than a condition you cope with. So if you are having this kind of extended road to orgasm and it is not something you have chosen, talk to a doctor as you might be experiencing DE.
There is also some concern that practicing orgasm control can lead to Half or Disappearing Orgasm -- a climax without the full-body sensations we associate with climax like vaginal contractions or the feeling like you can get to the brink of orgasm but not actually climax -- or Dry Orgasm -- a sensation that one (in this case one with a penis) is about to climax but then the tension that typically leads to ejaculation disappears. Alternately it may feel like they are orgasming, but nothing comes out of the penis.
Both Disappearing Orgasm and Dry Orgasm can be triggered by any number of physical and/or psychological factors. If you find yourself experiencing either of them repeatedly (because stuff like this can happen in a “one-off” way), talk to a medical professional who can assess your symptoms and make a diagnosis, if needed.
Okay, so if you ever talked to anyone with a penis about sex in high school, odds are you, at some point, heard a dramatic description of the pain and long term damage brought about by blue balls (which, btw, has an actual medical name: epididymal hypertension). The good news is that getting aroused without having an orgasm does not harm and definitely not any long-term effects on one’s sexual health. While it can be true that “blue balls” cause discomfort, that is easily remedied because (fun fact!) something called the Valsalva maneuver (holding one’s nose, closing the mouth, and exhaling until there is a sensation of the ears clearing) can relieve that discomfort.
So this one is interesting and could easily be applied to most any sexual activity: Communicate with your partners and check in frequently. If your quest for orgasm control trumps mutual pleasure, that can leave you with an unsatisfied partner and a less than happy relationship.
Additionally, like any other sexual activity, orgasm control requires consent. With that in mind, make sure your partner is okay with sex marathoning while you practice orgasm control, and NEVER try to control or delay someone else’s orgasm without their consent.
Orgasm control may seem daunting but if you are curious, give it a try. Sexual experimentation of any kind can be useful in showing you what you enjoy and what works for you. Not every experiment will work out, and that’s more than okay. As long as you take care of yourself and your partner is onboard, there’s no harm in trying and deciding for yourselves. And, who knows, you might find living on that orgasm control “edge” to be uniquely pleasurable, especially when you finally arrive at your long-awaited orgasm.
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