The stop and start method, also known as edging, is a self-help technique that men who suffer from premature ejaculation might benefit from.
It’s a good technique to spend time on if you’re currently single and have time to work on your sexual stamina.
Even if you’re currently in a relationship, you can still practice it when you’re alone, or with your partner during foreplay or sex if they are up for it.
In this article, I’ll explain how it works, what goals to set, and how to do it both alone and with a partner.
How does it work?
The aim of practicing the stop and start technique is to slowly but surely increase the length of time you can have sex for before ejaculating.
When you regularly practice the technique, you’ll gain a better understanding of your arousal levels. Importantly, you’ll learn to recognise where your point of no return is, which is the point at which ejaculation is almost inevitable.
Eventually, you’ll be able to spot your body’s signs that it’s reaching the highest arousal levels during sex, and ideally stop yourself before you go too far down the path of no return.
As you’ll see in the steps below, you’ll repeatedly get quite close to the point of no return, but stop and rest for a while before continuing. Eventually, you should find that you can go for longer before hitting that point.
Understand your arousal levels
It’s useful to develop a better understanding of your arousal levels during masturbation and sex: which movements, rhythms, positions, etc. make you most aroused.
Once you have a clear idea of your arousal levels, you’ll know when the time comes that if you continue doing what you’re doing during sex, you’re likely to ejaculate, and so you need to make a change.
So, while you practice the stop and start technique, pay attention to how your body and mind respond to sexual stimulation. Make a mental note of the signs that indicate you’re getting very aroused.
Perhaps you breathe faster or shallower, tense parts of your body, feel warm or flushed, get tingling sensations, feel excited, feel your heartrate increase. Everyone is different, so it’s up to you to learn what happens as you transition from resting to enjoying masturbation or sex to reaching orgasm.
The trick, and I’m not saying it’s easy, is to work out which signs mean you’re getting too close to the point at which you’re likely to ejaculate. Then try to do your stopping before you’re on that slippery slope (excuse the pun!)
Part 1: Solo practice
It’s better to practice on your own initially because you can take the time to really focus on how your body reacts when stimulated.
Set a goal
First of all, it’s good to have a goal. I think there are two approaches to this:
1. Have a set number of stops and restarts, like three or four.
2. Set a time limit, such as 5,10,15, or 20 minutes.
It’s your choice, and an easier goal might be better for the first week or two. You can always adjust the goal as you improve. Personally, I prefer a time limit to a number of restarts.
Once you have your goal in mind, here’s how to do the stop-start technique:
- Masturbate with just your hand. Try to keep a slow and steady pace.
- When you feel yourself getting close to climax, stop masturbating. Don’t stop too early, but don’t push it to the last second either.
- Rest for 30 to 60 seconds before continuing. Relax your body and breathe slowly while you rest.
- Repeat steps 1 to 3 until you reach your goal. Then you can ejaculate naturally.
- Over the weeks or months, you should notice that the period of time between getting an erection and hitting the point of no return gets longer.
- It can take a couple of weeks to see improvements, so don’t give up if you feel there’s no initial progress.
- After you feel that you’re making some small improvements, add lubricant to make it more intense.
- You may find at first that your time drops back down – don’t worry if it does. You should gradually improve again.
If you feel like climaxing as soon as you start again
When doing the stop and start method, you might feel like ejaculating as soon as you start again after a rest. This can be for one of two reasons:
- You’re not resting for long enough. 30 seconds is ideal, but you may need a minute for your arousal to drop.
- You may be pushing yourself too close to the point of no return. In future, stop a little earlier until you can rest for 30 seconds before continuing.
Practicing with a sex toy
If you’re single or practicing alone, you can eventually add a sex toy as an extra challenge once you’re happy with your improving time.
It’s a great way to close the gap between the stimulation of masturbation and the more intense physical stimulation of sex. It will also help ensure your hard work doesn’t fall apart when it comes to the real thing.
If you don’t have one already, check out my review of the Fleshlight Stamina Training Unit, which is the one I used when I was practicing the technique.
How long you should aim to last for
If you usually finish in a couple of minutes, aiming for 20 minutes is a tough goal. It can be tedious and time consuming if you spend ages masturbating because you have to stop and rest every 30 seconds.
Breaking it down into smaller steps is more likely to motivate you to keep at it.
If you usually only last a minute or two, set yourself the goal of five minutes before ejaculation for the first few sessions. From there you can raise the goal to 10 minutes. Later, from 10 minutes to 20 minutes.
When you can hit each goal with only two or three rests, you’re doing well and can move to the next goal.
And on the topic of 20 minutes – that’s not a strict target to aim for. I personally think 20 minutes is a good time to aim for based on how long surveys suggest women take on average to reach orgasm during sex.
For some people though, 20 minutes is way more than necessary. So feel free to set your own goals.
Having to stop too many times?
If you find you need to stop too many times to reach your time goal, either alone or with a partner, you can change the way you approach it.
Instead of stopping 10 times in 10 minutes, only do the process three to five times. Even if that only means a few minutes in total, eventually it will get better.
Part 2: The stop and start technique with a partner
Practicing with your partner presents a more realistic challenge. It also lets them know you’re working on the issue and they might like to feel involved.
There are two ways to do it:
- Go straight into trying it during sex.
- Practice with manual and oral sex, mixed in with normal sex on some days.
It’s up to you how you want to do it, but for those who want to start slowly, here’s a method to try:
- If you’re very sensitive, start with just kissing for a few minutes.
- Your partner can start to caress your body slowly and sensually.
- Ask your partner to masturbate you with their hand. If that makes you ejaculate quickly, this is the level you need to practice at for a few sessions.
- Tell them to stop before you reach the point of no return. Practice the stop and start method with them for the agreed time goal, before allowing yourself to finish.
- When you’re able to cope with your partner masturbating you, you can move on to oral sex.
- When you can last longer with oral, you can move on to sex.
- You might find that sex is too stimulating, even after developing control during manual and oral, so don’t rush. Spend time on foreplay and use lubricant to reduce the friction.
- Start with slow and shallow thrusts. You can even remain motionless inside your partner for a minute to let the initial intensity pass.
- Each time you rest, just kiss or caress your partner. You could also pull out and give them manual or oral for a minute or two.
- Continue slowly, with shallow, teasing thrusts.
- It might take many slow sessions before you can cope with more stimulating movements or positions. Just take things easy, build up and gradually increase the intensity.
Research evidence that the stop and start technique works
When I was reading into the research evidence for premature ejaculation treatments, I found many references to the stop and start technique.
Despite the fact that it’s often mentioned in scientific literature, however, there haven’t been many studies done to test its effectiveness.
Some of the studies that have been done either involved combined input from a therapist or combination therapy with a drug treatment.
If you’re interested in reading more about this, you might find a review of behavioral techniques published in 2015 interesting.
In the study, the authors said:
There is limited evidence that physical behavioral techniques for PE improve IELT and other outcomes over waitlist and that behavioral therapies combined with drug treatments give better outcomes than drug treatments alone. Further RCTs are required to assess psychotherapeutic approaches to PE.Cooper et al.
‘Limited evidence’ could suggest that there wasn’t much evidence, or that there is some evidence, just not enough to draw firm conclusions.
More recently in 2020, a study was published in which 50 participants were asked to practice the stop and start technique with a vibrating sex toy three times a week for six weeks. The results were quite positive, as the team reports:
We found that a 6-week intervention consisting of vibrator-assisted start–stop exercises significantly reduced self-reported PE symptoms.Ventus et al.
So, like many premature ejaculation treatments, it might work well for some men (myself included), but not for others.
I definitely think it’s worth trying though – it’s free, easy to practice, and in just a few weeks you should know if it’s working or not.
You might also like
The stop and start technique is just one technique among many. So you might like to read one of my recommended premature ejaculation books for even more techniques.
You might also find it helpful to read my premature ejaculation story, where I talk about the process I went through to deal with it.