Orgasms offer a myriad of health benefits. They aid in relieving stress, boost the immune system, fight insomnia, and may even reduce the likelihood of prostate cancer. Even without all these positives, orgasms simply feel wonderful. It’s no wonder so many of us are on the hunt for bigger, better, and more frequent orgasms.

So why would anyone want to purposely deny themselves all these amazing things? If more orgasms are better for us, shouldn't fewer orgasms be worse? Not necessarily. Orgasm denial can have surprising benefits.

What Is Orgasm Denial?

Orgasm denial isn’t straight up abstinence from everything sexy all the time. In most cases, it has a sexual component, usually in the form of anticipation, that is carefully controlled. One of the more common styles of orgasm denial for couples allows one partner to have control while the other submits and follows their rules. Just like in any other type of power exchange relationship, limits and desires are negotiated ahead of time and the submissive consents to the parameters of the dominant's control.

There are two basic types of orgasm denial: total denial and tease and denial. Each can be done on either a long-term or short-term basis.

Total Denial

The most classic example of total denial is referred to in the kink world as chastity. The submissive partner may be required to wear a chastity device to ensure they abstain from sexual activity. In other cases, the submissive simply promises not to engage in sexual activity for an extended amount of time. The dominant is often referred to as the keyholder in this type of scenario, regardless of whether there is an actual locking chastity device involved.

This type of orgasm denial is usually performed on a longer term, 24/7 basis. How much the denied partner must refrain from sex is dictated by the dominant. For instance, the submissive may be forbidden from masturbating completely, only allowed to masturbate when the dominant grants permission, or forbidden from all forms of sex for short or long periods of time. If the submissive has a penis, they may choose to use a chastity device that prevents erection as well.

Tease and Denial

For this technique, rather than disallowing all sexual activity, the dominant arouses the submissive and then stops just before orgasm. Tease and denial can be part of a stand-alone session in which after being denied a number of times the submissive is allowed to cum. This technique is often referred to as edging. Tease and denial can also be done over a long period of time. It isn’t uncommon for dominants in control of 24/7 denial to bring the submissive partner near orgasm and then cease stimulation for hours or days. (Learn more about this in Life on the Edge: Edging and Why You Deserve It.)

Orgasm Denial Is Not Necessarily a BDSM Activity

Although these types of orgasm denial appear to be kink focused, especially when including chastity devices and Dominant/submissive power dynamics, that isn’t always the case. Orgasm denial does not have to operate within the framework of traditional BDSM. Some prefer to take a toned down, spiritual, tantra-like approach to orgasm denial. In fact, one particular form of total orgasm denial called Karezza is popular among this community. Karezza involves equally denying orgasms for both partners rather than one being in control of the other. Additionally, some people practice solo orgasm denial.

But Why!? Isn’t Orgasm Denial Annoying?

It’s reasonable to assume that people attracted to sadomasochistic activities might relish in the torture of orgasm denial, but they aren’t the only types of people who enjoy it. Many find the extreme sexual tension it creates actually heightens arousal and eventual release. For those in long term relationships looking to rekindle sexual desire, it’s a wonderful tool. Orgasm denial can extend foreplay and help amp up libido for those with lower sex drives. It can also make orgasms, when they do eventually happen, stronger and more mind blowing than they were previously. When people with a penis want to increase their stamina and lasting power are denied orgasm it can help them learn to control their climax and hold off longer.

Many couples find orgasm denial increases intimacy with their partner and helps them feel more present and connected during sex. This can be especially true for those who put emphasis on the power play dynamic. Playing with Dominant/submissive control in any capacity can foster feelings of devotion and commitment in both partners.

Some even choose to use to use orgasm control in a therapeutic manner. Take this scenario for example:

Taylor always felt guilty masturbating and looking at porn. Perhaps it was their religious upbringing that gave them that outlook, but even as an adult they can’t seem to shed the guilt and shame that accompanies self- pleasuring. Allowing their partner, Alex, to control their orgasms has helped Taylor re-frame masturbation and separate if from deep-seated shame. Now when Alex allows Taylor to masturbate, it’s a positive. Sometimes it’s a reward for a job well done and sometimes it’s simply a treat. Regardless, when Taylor masturbates to follow Alex’s orders it doesn’t feel as shameful. Perhaps it’s because it’s done to please someone else? Perhaps it feels more acceptable because Taylor doesn't have to initiate the idea? Regardless, for the first time Taylor knows what shame-free masturbation feels like, and it’s great.

Orgasm control can also be used as a motivational tool. It can help someone with issues initiating certain tasks or staying focused to completion. Imagine if you had a dominant who only allowed you to cum after you’ve gone to the gym like you promised, cleaned the living room, or filed your taxes? For some, that’s a great way to check things off the to-do list. Additionally, forbidding your partner to cum until you’ve had your orgasm first is wonderful in situations where the dominant partner needs an extended amount of time to reach climax.

How Should You Start?

If you haven’t tried orgasm denial, why not experiment by starting off slowly using short increments of time? You can choose to edge yourself toward eventual orgasm during a solo masturbation session. Perhaps your partner can have you earn the right to have an orgasm after you’ve completed certain tasks. However you decide to play it out, you may find orgasm denial adds erotic anticipation to your sex play that makes the orgasms you do have much more enjoyable.