BDSM & Kink

An Introduction To Orgasm Denial

Ralph Greco Jr. takes us on a deep dive into orgasm denial, with this first of a three-part series exploring the delights of being denied
by Raplh Greco, Jr.
1 Nov 2021

UPDATED: 3 Apr 2023


Some of us may have experienced playful teasing during sex or have teased in kind. Teasing in this context is defined as words or actions intended to arouse without immediate fulfilment of that arousal being possible. For example, engaging in a round of sexting or tying a lover to our bed and tickling their erogenous zones with a feather, riding crop, or our tongue. Participating in this kind of play we may have felt the power (and pleasure) in being manipulated or manipulating someone’s desires, being brought to or coaxing a partner to the very brink of orgasm only to hold back at the last moment. 

Editor’s Note: Whilst we have taken care to use gender-inclusive language in this piece, some of the articles, studies and sites linked below use binary and or bioessentialist language which does not accurately convey or address the incredibly vast spectrum of gender, sexuality, and experience. We do believe that the vast majority of the information provided by the author aligns with the values of Killing Kittens and there is beneficial information contained within for all genders and sexual identities. 

With ever so much (and more) available to us all with a mere swipe of an itchy Twitter finger across our Smartphone face, is it any wonder we might be curious, titillated even, by that which is denied us? So much so that we might actively seek to include this denial into our sex lives, both solo or with a lover(s)?

“Controlling a partner’s orgasm is a deeply intimate form of power exchange that can be lascivious or spiritual or anywhere in between”
Ava Durga

Many people, know about or have at least heard of “edging“. Edging is a term that is increasingly entering our general vernacular, and it refers to sexual play built around bringing a lover or ourselves close to orgasm but denying that orgasm at the last moment, sometimes repeating this cycle several times over. Lots of people increase the intensity of masturbatory or partnered sessions by elongating the hours, days, or even weeks between their orgasms. Plenty of partners are right now either locked-in or are the ‘keyholder’ in mutual chastity playing, some even enjoying a lifestyle where orgasm denial and genital teasing are prolonged over extended periods of months or even years. 

Teasing/taunting and edging is something that many choose to return to in some fashion throughout their sex lives. Recognizing when exactly one is beginning an imminent orgasm countdown (and knowing how to back off from it) as well as being able to manipulate a lover’s orgasmic stages can be thrilling, and can lead to even better solo or partnered sex. 

A little denial can go a long way.

What Is Orgasm Denial & Why Do We Like It?

As we build closer to a potential orgasm, it may be hard for some to imagine not reaching that peak. Sure, “making it last,” building anticipation, roiling one’s self or a partner to a fevered edge can be part of the fun of sexual expression, but the pay-off for many may not be separated from that final release.

As quickly as you can masturbate yourself to climax, you can just as quickly remove your hand or a device, push back from your inspiration material, and halt or “deny” an impending orgasm. Rolling yourself through a cycle of coming close, then backing off, then repeating the process as many times as you like (hello again, edging), you might just find that the sensation intensifies, leading to an even more intense orgasm. 

Orgasm denial isn’t just about the eventual pay-off of a stronger orgasm, though. Ava Durga, professional dominant and life coach, gives us an insight into just why orgasm denial can be so special for other reasons. “Controlling a partner’s orgasm is a deeply intimate form of power exchange that can be lascivious or spiritual or anywhere in between,” she says, showing how orgasm denial can in fact be more about the psychological than the physical, with the element of power exchange proving enjoyable to both sides of the divide. 

For those of a Dom/me/mx disposition, orgasm denial can be a fulfilling part of play as it can show a sub’s dedication and obedience, be a tool for humiliation, and or form part of a punishment and reward system. For subs there can be an equally vast and interesting array of reasons why someone might be into orgasm denial, from enjoying the feeling of desperation to finding release in handing over control to a dominant partner. 

Orgasm denial can also work to destabilise the dominant narrative of sex being about orgasm, creating space for other types of play and exchange without the pressure or expectation that there will be an orgasm. 

Types of Orgasm Denial

Orgasm denial generally expresses itself in three major ways: 

  • Edging, as previously articulated, is the cyclic practice of increasing stimulation and stopping just before the point of orgasm.
  • Ruined Orgasm is a BDSM term for when a person allows themselves to come (or if playing with a partner(s), where their partner brings them to the point of orgasm) but then the hand, mouth, toy, whatever is applying stimulation and causing the orgasm is removed at the time of climax. The feeling of a sudden “unattended” orgasm can be enjoyable for lots of reasons, with some people reporting that they enjoy this aspect of denial as part of humiliation play or as a method to encourage them to “earn” an unruined orgasm. It’s certainly an exciting way to play with denial, when indeed you aren’t exactly denying yourself a release, but are denying any further or complete stimulation that brought you to it.
  • Complete denial and chastity play. This can range from casual kink play to as involved as a complete lifestyle, sometimes known as 24/7. We’ll consider chastity/lifestyle denial at length in part 3…

The Dangers Of Denial

According to this article, people with vulvas can experience what is sometimes called “Blue Vulva”, a similar concept to the oft-bemoaned (and oft-debated) “Blue Balls”. These sensations occur when someone is brought to the edge of climax over and over but denied orgasm. Indeed, there may be an experience of some discomfort in denying a climax, and depending on one’s relationship with discomfort and frustration (masochism involves a particular relationship with these experiences), each person takes to denial differently. It’s important to note that “blue genitals” is often weaponised as a method of coercion or guilt, which is obviously unacceptable. Your desire to come is not someone else’s problem. Manage the symptoms like a grown-up and masturbate, or seek medical advice if you consistently experience any discomfort or pain in your genitals (or anywhere else, for that matter).

But some may still have the question …is orgasm denial dangerous? 

We will definitely delve deeper into this question later when exploring chastity and locking one’s genitals into devices, as there can be some real physical dangers inherent in this practice if done without the proper care and equipment, if you’re using any. In general, we each seem to take to orgasm denial as individually as we do everything else, both psychologically and physically.

Although there has been lots written on the subject of being stimulated to orgasm and not coming, there are no specific dangers reported in denying yourself a climax. Plenty of medical reports have been posted on people with penises being denied ejaculation and there is no evidence that edging will cause semen or ejaculate to “back up” into the body. Having said that, there are benefits to prostate milking for those with this physiology who are undergoing long-term chastity, but for explorations of denial, even for as long as a few weeks of regular edging, there is no physical danger to the plumbing in not coming for anyone. Of course, if you experience any pain while staving off an orgasm or when you orgasm, during sex or during masturbation, this should be addressed ASAP by a medical professional!

As much as orgasm denial affects us physically, it also has the potential to affect one’s behaviour or mood in a variety of different ways.

Benefits of Orgasm Denial 

Leaving yourself in an elevated state of arousal for an extended period rushes the blood to certain body parts and focuses one’s mind in ways very few other activities can. Being able to edge yourself to the very point of climax but keep from orgasm can also bolster one’s assurance that they can conquer other goals; hell, if you can control this function, just think of what else you accomplish?! 

There have also been studies conducted where people can learn how better to control premature ejaculation through experimenting with orgasm denial. In 1956 the Journal of Sexual Medicine published a paper by the aptly named James H. Semans, advocating a “stop-start method” to help prolong sex for people experiencing premature ejaculation. As well as this, a variety of individuals report deeper orgasms when they deny themselves every now and again. Then, of course, there’s the whole host of benefits that people can experience without orgasm occurring or being the goal – enjoying a power exchange, relishing the frustration, and the satisfaction of delivering an effective punishment being just a few examples. 

Other Things To Consider Before Playing With Orgasm Denial

Whilst there are no physical dangers inherent in orgasm denial, the actualities of being denied release may not be the anticipated experience of the receiver. This has the potential to result in built-up frustration if not addressed in the moment, and whilst the frustration and disappointment are part of the appeal for many, others may discover they don’t enjoy these emotions quite as they thought they would. It’s important to remember not to blame anyone when engaging in a new experience if the emotional result is not as intended, and to discuss things thoroughly with a partner beforehand to set expectations, safe words, and boundaries. As with any sexual act, consent is key. Don’t surprise someone with a ruined orgasm or orgasm denial – the main part of the fun of this practice is the sense of anticipation, anyway, meaning everyone has to be informed about the experience. 

If there is one aspect of modern life that many may struggle with, high on the list might be trying to find a way to slow down, smell the proverbial flowers, and disconnect. If we can meter our most personal activity, one we may have always been racing to complete, we might find a new way of looking at the world. If nothing else, a better understanding of our sexual responses can only pay dividends when we start to share our bed (or orgasm denial) with a lover or several.