The male orgasm is often under-explained. It’s either there or it’s not...but there is actually so much more to it than that. Like women, men are complex, sexually unique individuals - not all men experience the same kind of orgasmic pleasure and not all orgasms are the same.
What happens in the body when you orgasm?
There are several stages to a man’s orgasm:
Excitement is obviously, well - something exciting happens. I’ll let you use your imagination on that one - but this is the stage where an erection happens. During this phase, your heart rate and breathing speed up and your blood pressure increases.
Plateau is an intensified version of the excitement phase - your penis and testicles continue to increase in size and the excitement throughout your system ramps up.
Orgasm is, well, the main event - the big O. This is when your pleasure peaks and releases. This can last anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes, and it can include ejaculation or not (see more on that below!)
Resolution/refraction is when your body begins to return to an unaroused, relaxed state. Your erection gradually subsides and your muscles relax. Some individuals go through a refractory period, during which they are then unable to get an erection or have another orgasm. This period is different for every man, some last only a few minutes, and others last for hours or days.
What’s a refractory period?
The refractory period occurs right after you reach a sexual climax. This refers to the time between an orgasm and when you feel ready to be sexually aroused again. All people experience a refractory period (yes, women, too!).
How do the male and female refractory periods differ?
A 2013 study suggests that the male peripheral nervous system (PNS) is much more involved in the body’s changes after orgasm. Compounds called prostaglandins affect the overall nerve response which can result in a longer refractory period for males. A peptide called somatostatin is also thought to reduce sexual arousal right after ejaculation, which could also explain the difference between male and female refractory periods.
There are no specific ways to determine how long someone’s refractory period will be, as it varied from person to person based on factors such as overall health, libido, and diet.
Healthline suggests that for most females, mere seconds may pass before they are ready for orgasm again. For males, there seems to be a lot more variance - for some, it takes a few minutes, maybe an hour - and for others, it can take a day or even longer.
Another thing that can determine your refractory time is whether you’re masturbating or having partnered sex. Data from three different studies of males and females engaging in masturbation or PVI (penile-vaginal intercourse) showed that prolactin levels are over 400% higher after PVI than after masturbation. Prolactin is a key hormone in the refractory period, so this could explain why the refractory period may last a lot longer after having sex with a partner than after masturbating.
Let’s talk ejaculation vs orgasm…
Orgasm and ejaculation are often used interchangeably and can happen at the same time, but they are actually two separate events. If you’re a penis haver and your orgasm builds to a crescendo at which time you then shoot (or dribble) semen from your penis, then you’ve had an ejaculatory orgasm. However, you don’t need to expel semen to experience orgasm. Some orgasms don’t come with any ejaculation - simply the feel-good sensations of an orgasm - this is typically referred to as a dry orgasm.
Can men have multiple orgasms?
Yes - men absolutely can have multiple orgasms. That’s right, the thing that women thought was exclusively ours is not ours, because men can do it too (which is super cool.) The key to mastering multiple orgasms, according to Healthline, is learning to extend the period of high arousal time before you actually climax. Masturbate almost to the point of orgasm and then change the stimulation by switching hands or breathing slower. When the urge to cum subsides, go again! This is called edging, and it will not only feel amazing when you finally do reach that big O, but it also helped you build up your stamina!
Does edging cause blue balls?
No, it doesn’t. Edging is highly unlikely to have any harmful side effects and very rarely leads to blue balls (which is factually called epididymal hypertension - but “blue balls” is way easier and more fun to say). This is essentially a buildup of blood in the testicles caused by long periods of arousal without orgasming. It can cause aching and a “blue” tint to the testicles. This condition, while it may seem scary, is not particularly harmful and will pass.
However, it’s also not very commonly experienced with edging, either - so don’t worry!
As I explain in this orgasm control article, you should think of edging like bringing yourself to the very edge of a cliff overlooking a beautiful landscape. You’re ready to dive off, parachute on your back, ready to freefall into bliss...but then you take a few steps backward instead.
What is edging?
Edging, for men, is essentially the practice of stopping sexual stimulation before you climax, waiting a period of time (typically 20-30 seconds), and then stimulating yourself again. This can be done several times and can make your orgasm feel much more intense.
Edging (for both men and women) is about bringing yourself right to the edge of climax (hence the name) and not letting yourself cum. This can take some practice, especially with men, because it’s a very delicate balance. You could lose your erection all together or you could end up orgasming without intending to, making it feel not as good.
Why would you take such a risk? Well…
The payoff is amazing.
Experiencing an orgasm after edging can feel so much more amazing than a “regular” orgasm. In this Cosmo article, guys explain how it feels to cum after edging, with one explaining: "It's hard for me to describe exactly how it feels physically but the sensation is exquisite. And I experience a sort of high. I'm full of energy and just really happy. Any worries I have no longer matter, and it's just me and the pleasure I'm feeling. It feels so good that I don't want it to end…”
While some say it feels amazing, others (in the article) admitted it just wasn’t for them, “I don't see the appeal in edging, it's just frustrating but I hear that's kind of the point - but each to their own."
It may actually make you last longer in bed.
In a 1956 Journal of Sexual Medicine paper, the “stop and start” method was introduced to help people last longer in bed before reaching orgasm. This method is essentially edging - you start sexual stimulation, get to the point where you’re about to climax, stop sexual stimulation, wait a period of time (20-30 seconds) and then start again. According to James H. Semans, the author of the paper, this method was proven to help men last longer during partnered sex.
You can become more in tune with your body and your orgasm.
On a more holistic, wellness-centered level, edging your orgasm can help you better understand your body and how you experience orgasmic pleasure. This can not only help you achieve better masturbation sessions but it can also help you achieve better partnered sex by understanding more about your orgasm and your body and then communicating those things to your partner to allow for better sex.
"Edging is a good time to practice keeping the mind completely focused on the now. Not only will this concentration and focus help make edging easier, but it will allow a person to fully enjoy the pleasurable feelings," clinical sexologist Sunny Rodgers, ACS, tells mindbodygreen.
You have more time, which means you can experience more.
Duh! Edging buys you more time in the bedroom (with your partner or with yourself), which means you can experience more pleasure. Orgasms aren’t the only way to experience pleasure during sex, and delaying that orgasm to focus on other pleasurable sensations can allow you to experience things you “didn’t have time to experience” before edging.
It can be incorporated into D/s dynamics for some BDSM fun.
The thing I personally like most about edging is that it can be included in a Dom/sub dynamic. Demanding that your partner halt their pleasure to focus on yours (or just to tease them) can be the ultimate thrill.
If you’re a beginner, you’ll want to take this slow and really pay attention. One of the great things about edging is that you can get to know your body (and your orgasm) so much better.
Really pay attention to how what you’re doing feels.
Get to know your body here. Instead of getting lost in porn videos and masturbating without much thought, take a session to yourself. Let your imagination guide you to pleasure and really focus on what the pleasure feels like. When you go slow, when you speed up, when you switch hands, when you breathe deep - all of these things can impact how your pleasure feels in ways you never noticed before.
The first step to edging is to really concentrate on your orgasm (without attempting to edge) to see how the sensation feels right before you explode. Then, next time, attempt to stop just before you reach that sensation.
Use the “easiest” method to begin.
The stop-start method, as explained before, is one of the simplest edging methods around. You start your masturbation routine as you normally would, and then, when you’re almost ready to climax, you stop entirely. You wait 20-30 seconds, maybe take a deep breath, and start again. Feeling this build up over and over again can not only get you used to how your orgasm feels (so you know just when to stop) but it can also be extremely pleasurable in a frustrating, urgent kind of way.
Change up the way you masturbate.
Part of the stop-start method could mean switching up how you masturbate, too. This can include switching hands, so you’re using your less dominant hand to masturbate. Not only does this make you go naturally a little slower, but it also provides you with more time to get better with both hands. This could also include using different methods or rhythms as well.
Focus on other parts of your body, too.
When you “stop” (using the stop-start method), you don’t have to stop pleasure entirely. Focus on other areas of the body, other sensations, other things that keep you in the mood. This can mean trailing your fingers along your torso or indulging in some impact play with a partner (if they are there).
There is even something called the “grounding” technique, that allows you to get even more in tune with your body during those “stop” moments. According to mindbodygreen, you can place your hand on your heart to help keep you grounded, connected, and feeling positive energy. This can also give you something to concentrate on between stimulation sessions.
Try porn that’s designed to edge you.
That’s right, this exists. Are you surprised? Really any kind of porn exists, you just have to know what to search for. Porn that’s designed to edge you can be explained as jerk off instructions (JOI) edging videos. These are perfect because most of the time they are literally instructions (I’m talking “stroke up, stroke down, stroke up, stroke down” kind of instructions) that are designed to help you get better at edging. Read all about JOI porn here.
Try prolonged edging, if you want.
Edging doesn’t have to be done in one sitting! If you really wanted to torture yourself (hey, maybe you’re into that), you could use the stop-start method a few times, and then after you’ve stopped, just don’t start again. Letting your erection completely fade and then starting again later can be the best kind of frustrating, and can make the eventual payoff that much better.
Now, once you’ve mastered some of the beginner edging tips, it’s time to up your game! Let’s take things to the next level.
Switch from “stop and start” to “squeeze.”
While the “stop and start” method is perfect for beginners, once you’ve mastered that, you may want to up the ante with another technique - the squeeze. It’s pretty simple: get aroused, stimulate yourself to (almost) orgasm, right before you orgasm, squeeze the head of your penis to help stop the orgasm. Do this for 20-30 seconds and then keep going.
This method is naturally a little harder to control than the stop-start method, so it may take you some time to get used to it. The exciting thing about this technique is that’s it’s truly more of a “pause” than an actual stop to pleasure because you’re still hands-on (sorry for the pun, I couldn’t resist) with your pleasure, you’re just really hitting the pause button by squeezing your tip. Once you’ve done this, you can throw in some fun things like “pulsing” your grip on the tip, which adds a new, fun sensation while you’re paused.
...And then there’s ballooning.
What on earth is ballooning? Well, you essentially find an area of your penis that’s especially sensitive and work that spot. Gently move your finger(s) around that area in a circle, and keep rubbing until you’re fully hard. Continue this until you feel as though you’re about to cum, and then stop touching entirely when you’re about to orgasm. Let yourself go a little soft and then work the same area again.
This is great for men who find they have trouble lasting in the bedroom, as it gradually helps you build a kind of “resistance” to pleasure in that spot. You won’t “lose sensation” there, but it won’t be as intense, which can help if you’ve experienced premature ejaculation.
Add some toys into the mix.
If you’re feeling ready, why not add a toy into the mix? Adding a masturbation sleeve like the Fleshlight can seem a bit extreme, and if you’re not quite there yet, there are still tons of ways to up your orgasm and edging game.
Tenga Eggs are extremely popular when it comes to male masturbation toys because they are inexpensive and fun to experiment with. These are single-use sex toys that are stretchable. They often come in variations (with different patterns on the inside to help you feel good) and they are something you use to jerk off into. These were extremely popular at the sex toy shop I used to work at.
Other toys you can use can include cock rings, bullet vibrators for added stimulation, prostate massagers, or butt plugs.
Let your partner edge you.
This is something that is going to be so much fun (says the switch-Domme in me). Allowing your partner to be the one to physically edge you can be great for multiple reasons. For starters - your partner is edging you. Having them stroke you and tease you can be exciting and pleasurable in itself.
Secondly, this really allows you to get used to explaining your pleasure to your partner, opening the lines of communication between you two. Telling your partner when you need to slow down, when you’re close to orgasm, when to speed up - this can all help you get to know each other better which can then lead to better sex. And lastly, it’s just fun. Including this into foreplay especially can be really fun for everyone involved and make the final payoff of intercourse orgasms feel truly incredible.
Some people experience something like a “half orgasm” or ruined orgasm when edging. Why does this happen? Well, this can happen if you’ve gone past the “point of no return” while edging and then stopped before the big bang. It kind of feels as though you “missed it” - and it’s incredibly frustrating, especially if you have a longer refraction period and can’t orgasm again right away.
This essentially happens because you stopped at the wrong time (too late) and then didn’t “complete” your orgasm, but had it anyway. Edging takes a lot of practice and allows you to exercise a lot of control over your body and your orgasm, and naturally, you’re bound to have some of these “misses” happen occasionally.
This is common if you’re new to edging. Additionally, the reverse can happen, you can pull away too soon and not get close enough to orgasm, and then not be able to achieve it at all. This is equally as frustrating. With practice, you should be able to pinpoint the exact right time to stop (or pause) pleasure to be able to continue again and then experience an amazing orgasm.
Is it possible not to like edging?
Of course! You may try this and entirely despise it. You may not like the sensation or the slight frustration, you may be a “get in, get off, and get out” kind of man or you might simply just have no interest in it. Really, to each their own!
Additionally, backing off from orgasm may cause you to lose it entirely and not be able to get it back. These are essentially “ruined” orgasms and there is nothing quite as frustrating as that. If you try the beginner tips and find yourself getting frustrated - maybe just go back to experiencing orgasms the way you always have. Remember - the point of trying new things in the bedroom (even alone) is to have fun.