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Sexual Wellness

What Is Orgasm Denial?

| 08/04/2021

orgasm denial Illustration by Olivia Healy

Wait a minute: Isn’t an orgasm the entire point of having sex in the first place? Or at least the best part? Not always. Orgasm denial is the practice of denying orgasms to intensify erotic tension. Usually practiced in dominant-submissive relationships, orgasm denial’s pleasure payoff is more psychological than physical.

In its simplest form, orgasm denial can sound like, “Babe, don’t jerk off. I got new sex toys for us to play with this weekend, I think you’re gonna love it.” This may sound controlling in a negative way, but with consent, it’s hot as hell. We delay our own pleasure knowing that our partner has something better in store for us.

On the other hand, seasoned Dommes (dominant femmes) may use chastity devices like remote-controlled cock cages or padlocked restraints, demanding that their partners wait hours, days, weeks, or even months to have an orgasm. While there is still physical pleasure, orgasm denial focuses on the psychological pleasure of control and surrender in the sub-Dom relationship. That’s why it’s sometimes called “orgasm control.”

Orgasm denial is different from its popular cousin, edging — the act of reaching the edge of orgasm and then delaying it, in order to achieve more intense orgasms from the long build-up. Don’t think of it as ruined orgasms. Think of it as better ones.

Edging still ends with an orgasm, but orgasm denial is about withholding orgasms altogether. The power dynamics behind orgasm denial play can result in increased sexual stamina and, for penis-owners, it can help with premature ejaculation.

Mastering the Sexual Response Cycle

Practicing orgasm denial requires mastery of the sexual response cycle. The sexual response cycle has four phases:

In the excitement phase, thoughts like “Damn, I see you in those gray sweatpants!” will translate into physical responses. Your heart starts beating faster. Blood starts to flow to the nipples and genitals. The labia swells, the clitoris enlarges, and the penis becomes erect. The vagina begins to self-lubricate as well.

Orgasm denial’s pleasure payoff is more psychological than physical.

In the plateau phase, the changes that occurred in phase one become more dramatic. The clitoris becomes hyper-sensitive, sometimes to the point that it hurts to receive certain types of stimulation. Breathing, heart rate, and blood pressure continue to rise as sexual tension builds up.

In orgasm denial, the goal is to prolong the hyper-sensitivity and awareness that comes at the plateau phase. The chemicals produced at this phase sends your brain on a magic carpet ride. And sometimes, you just gotta ask yourself: Why do I want this to end? That intense build-up is too good to stop.

Additionally, practicing orgasm denial requires a deep understanding of your partner’s bodily cues as they move through the different phases. This can look like backing away from a vulva-haver’s clit just as your partner starts breathing quicker and moaning louder so that you can tease different areas of their body. There’s a unique pleasure in hearing your partner beg for an orgasm.

The orgasm phase typically comes next. The orgasm phase is marked by a strong sexual release, which can cause involuntary muscle contractions like the ones that occur in the vaginal walls during an orgasm. Next comes the resolution phase, in which the body starts returning to its neutral state. There’s a sense of intimacy, well-being, and tiredness.

Denying the last two phases of the sexual response cycle results in different types of pleasure. For the dominant partner, controlling every part of the sexual encounter can be healing. For the submissive partner, orgasm denial can be an exercise in surrender, which is only possible if you truly trust your partner.

Orgasm Denial With a Partner

As with any BDSM, femdom, fetish or kink relationship, orgasm denial requires planning and discussion about consent, safe words, and aftercare. Practicing orgasm denial without the other person’s consent can be confusing and upsetting. It’s important to set expectations and boundaries that make sense for the sexual encounter that you want.

If it’s your first time as a Dom, start with simple commands: “Don’t touch yourself this week. That pussy is mine.” You might also say, “Wait until I see you next” or “You get to cum when I say so” without disclosing a specific time or place. The waiting will drive both you and your partner wild with desire. Thank us later.

Experiment with shorter time frames before working your way into hours, weeks, days or months. Right when your partner is curling their toes and raising their hips closer to your face during great oral sex, pull your mouth away and blow on their clit or penis. You can try this with a 30-second timer, building up to one minute, two minutes, three minutes and so on.

Soon, you’ll be ready to work with restraints, chastity belts, and long-term denial.

Orgasm Denial by Yourself

Orgasm denial is a great way to break yourself out of that pandemic masturbation rut. It can also be a great way to get in touch with your own hypersensitivity in the plateau phase. Get to know your breath, the way it quickens when you penetrate yourself in specific sex positions or rub your clit in a specific motion.

Practicing orgasm denial in short increments can be a great way to ease into BDSM.

Just as you would with a partner, start with small increments of time and enlist the help of your trusty Pom vibrator. (Dildos work too, if necessary.) Bend the head of the vibrator buzz into that spot right underneath your clit and grind your hips into Pom’s varying motor speeds. Control your breath, striving for deep, guttural inhales and exhales instead of quick, short, shallow breaths.

Stop abruptly after 30 seconds. Listen to your heartbeat and send sensations to other parts of your body by scratching your legs, slapping the insides of your thighs, or pulling your own hair. Let your breath become as still as possible during this break time, to imitate the way you would catch your breath if a partner brought you to the brink of orgasm and then suddenly stopped.

Next, set a one-minute timer and try to replicate the same moves and position as before. Consistency in these bursts helps replicate the teasing cycle in partner play. To help with consistency, prop yourself up with Pillo, the soft-yet-firm wedge pillow that props you up in many different positions. It also helps build up erotic tension if you can’t see the timer. If you’re using your phone to time this session, tuck it under the Pillo until the timer goes off.

When practicing erotic sexual denial on your own, you get the distinct steamy pleasure of being both the Dom and the sub. Go ahead, give yourself a heaping serving of dirty talk. Instead of moaning, you can focus on the types of commands you like to give and receive. If you’re new to BDSM, power play and roleplay, this is a great practice that helps you learn more about your preferences.

It’s My Orgasm, and I’ll Deny If I Want To

Orgasm denial can teach you more about your own or your partner’s sexual response cycle. If you’ve always wanted to try kink but found it intimidating, practicing orgasm denial in short increments can be a great way to ease into BDSM and add a new dimension to your sex life. Solo orgasm denial can teach you about your own kinky preferences, plus it’s a great way to break out of a masturbation rut.

Sexual health and wellness doesn’t need an orgasmic release. Including orgasm denial in your sexual playbook can help you appreciate the other physical and psychological pleasures that sex brings to our daily lives.

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