What Is Orgasm Denial?

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What Is Orgasm Denial?


For a lot of us, sex and orgasm go hand in hand. Often we think of an explosive orgasm as a key indicator that we have had good sex, and the lack of an orgasm can be disappointing (we put a lot of pressure on ourselves to orgasm!) . For some folks, however, intentionally not having and orgasm makes their sex life amazing. Today we are talking about orgasm denial. What it is, why people do it, what kind of sexual pleasure you get from it,  and how orgasms affect our bodies.  

What is an Orgasm Denial?

Orgasm denial is a form of BDSM play.  Often practiced by couples engaging in a dominant/submissive dynamic, orgasm denial puts the dominant partner in control of the submissive partner’s orgasm. Often the dominant partner will bring the submissive partner to the brink of orgasming and then deny them permission to climax.

Now, make no mistake, “no orgasm” does not by any means equal “no pleasure.” Some find the extremely high state of arousal that orgasm denial provides to be incredibly pleasurable. Additionally, the feeling of being under the control of or in control of one’s partner can also add a whole new layer of excitement. 

One thing to remember is that orgasm denial is similar to but not exactly the same as a sexual practice known as "edging." While both orgasm denial and edging involve delaying orgasm, with edging, the idea is to engage in stimulation for an extended period, with orgasm being the ultimate goal. With orgasm denial, on the other hand, there may be an eventual orgasm -- which might be quite explosive-- but that is not necessarily the case. Sometimes orgasm denial means no orgasm ever happens.

Getting Started with Orgasm Denial

Now that we know what orgasm denial is, how do you get started? Well, a good place to begin is by simply understanding the different types of orgasm denial play and seeing which appeals to you:

  • Teasing: This is most similar to edging. It involves one partner being aroused and brought to the brink of orgasm (through genital stimulation or otherwise), often repeatedly, without being permitted to climax. One way to arouse your partner is to stimulate the erogenous zones, such as the nipples. How does one have a nipple orgasm, you ask? That’s achieved through a combination of adult sex toys or old-fashioned manual labor, so to speak.
  • Bondage-Assisted Orgasm Denial: If you really want to amp up the feeling of being powerless and controlled for the submissive partner, bondage-assisted orgasm denial might be for you. In this version of orgasm denial, the submissive partner is physically restrained. The purpose of the restraints is to prevent the submissive from inadvertently achieving orgasm on their own. It might involve chastity devices like penis cages or chastity belts, and a practice called key holding, where the dominant partner controls the key to the submissive partner’s chastity device.  
  • Solo Orgasm Denial: No partner? No problem! Like many sexual activities, orgasm denial can be practiced solo. Solo orgasm denial involves bringing oneself to the brink of climax and then backing off before orgasm can occur. You can experiment with delaying orgasm for longer periods of time as you adjust to the practice. It is like the “teasing” version we described above, with the difference being that you are doing it to yourself instead of having a partner in charge. 

Once you understand the different forms and decide whether orgasm denial is for you, it can be helpful to engage in some dominance and submission role-play before leaping right to full-on orgasm denial. Try having one partner be “in charge” in bed to see how you like the dominant and submissive dynamic. Orgasm denial can be an immersive experience, so taking some time to get comfortable with the power exchange piece before you do it can make for a safer, more comfortable experience for everyone. The sexual frustration from delayed sexual release might take some getting used to, but the rewards (one of which might be multiple orgasms) would be worth the wait.

A fun thing about orgasm denial play is that there are tons of fun sex toy options to help faciliate your experience. Vibrators and dildos can help provide stimulation, bondage gear can be great if one partner wishes to be restrained, and, if you really want to go for it, there are chastity devices for both penises and vulvas. You don’t have to load up on new gear to explore orgasm denial, but it’s fun to know there’s cool stuff available should you want to try it!

How Do I Withhold My Orgasm?

For folks who wish to be on the receiving end of orgasm denial or who want to experiment with solo orgasm denial play, the obvious question is, “how do I stop myself from climaxing?”. Holding back from orgasm is something you can build up to and practice.

Try the things that turn you on: vibrators, oral sex, G-spot stimulation, nipple play, whatever works for you. When you are close to orgasm, stop all stimulation. Repeat this process, experimenting with how long you can go before cutting off the stimulation.

If you are playing with a partner, make sure you give cues that you are close to orgasm, so they know when to cut off the stimulation.

So, what about when orgasm finally happens? What happens to the body then? Great questions! 


What Happens When A Woman Has An Orgasm?

For AFAB (assigned female at birth) folks -- this is folks born with a vulva-- pleasurable stimulation leads to sensations like tingling and physical responses such as swelling and lubricating (becoming “wet”). When stimulation reaches its peak, those nerves shoot off, leading to involuntary muscle contractions and a release of tension. Afterward, the genitals may be sensitive to touch. 


What Happens When A Man Has An Orgasm?

We’ve covered what happens when AFAB people have orgasms, but is it very different for AMAB (assigned male at birth) folks. Well, yes and no. It’s similar in that the orgasm involves a build-up of tension, involuntary muscle contractions, a feeling of release, and the genitals being extremely sensitive to touch afterward, but it is different in that folks with penises typically ejaculate when they orgasm. This involves the expulsion of a liquid containing sperm and seminal fluid from the penis.

When the process that leads to all of these sensations contained in the orgasm experience is interrupted, as it is in orgasm denial, the tension can build and build, leading to incredibly powerful orgasms when (or if!) they are finally allowed to happen.

If orgasm denial has you intrigued, PinkCherry has a large selection of adult sex toys, BDSM accessories, and more to get you started on your orgasm denial adventure! 


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Written By: JoEllen Notte

JoEllen Notte is a writer, speaker, sex educator, and mental health advocate whose work explores the impact of depression on sex and relationships. Since 2012 she has written about sex, mental health, and how none of us are broken on her award-winning site The Redhead Bedhead as well as for Glamour, The BBC, Bitch, PsychCentral, and more. JoEllen is the author of The Monster Under the Bed: Sex, Depression, and the Conversations We Aren’t Having.