Some folks dream of being able to someday have an orgasm, while others get off from having their partner spoil their big O. Yep, you read that right—ruined orgasms are totally a thing that some people enjoy.
If you're curious, here's what you should know about ruined orgasms before attempting to wreck your or someone else's next climax.
What is a ruined orgasm?
"A ruined orgasm is typically a type of control play found in the BDSM community whereby the dominant person gets the submissive person highly aroused and then leaves them hanging to experience a very low-quality, low- to no-sensation type of orgasm, if any at all," explains AASECT-certified sex therapist Jenni Skyler, Ph.D., LMFT, CST.
So rather than feeling a 10/10 euphoric explosion of pleasure, the sub would feel a not-so-satisfying 2/10 instead. Yay.
Ruined orgasms can happen by accident, too. In fact, you might've actually had one in the past!
"Many of us have experienced them; most of us just don't eroticize the experience," says sociologist and clinical sexologist Sarah Melancon, Ph.D.
For example, she says one can occur if someone walks in on you masturbating or you get distracted right as you're about to finish. (I can vouch that that's happened to me before with a phone call from my mom, and it sucked.)
Melancon also notes that this practice is far more common in the world of female domination with male subs (which is why male-gendered language and penis talk may be used moving forward!), but people of any gender can enjoy it and should totally try it out if it sounds appealing.
What ruined orgasms feel like
Does a ruined orgasm hurt or feel good for the person having it? Does it even feel like anything at all? Well, it can make the recipient feel...a few different things. Physically, it's kinda like blue balls.
"It can feel like a very subtle orgasm without the release, intensity, or climatic feeling typically experienced by orgasm," says Skyler. Melancon adds that "sometimes ruined orgasms can feel a bit painful or uncomfortable to feel the contractions of an orgasm without the pleasure."
Emotionally, it can feel very frustrating, disappointing, and unsatisfying. "If the stimulation continues to a point where ejaculation is inevitable, his partner can still distract or humiliate him to ruin the sensation of orgasm," says Melancon. "In addition, the feeling of humiliation may accompany the experience regardless, especially if the 'ruined' partner twitches, spasms, moans, and groans at the sensation. It can feel embarrassing, as if they have no control over their own body."
Ironically, though, despite how sad ruined orgasms may sound like they feel, they can be pretty pleasurable if someone's super into them.
"Some men have a fetish for this and want their partner to ruin their orgasm," says Melancon. "These guys often enjoy the tease-and-denial aspect and/or want to be 'forced' to do something to 'earn' a good orgasm."
How to give or have a ruined orgasm:
Ensure you have consent
Friendly reminder: Never assume it's OK to engage in a sexual activity without receiving enthusiastic consent from all parties.
It's especially important to protect both people during BDSM with clear communication, boundaries, and consent conversations. "Make sure both partners agree to this type of sex play," says Skyler...then, proceed!
Agree upon a safe word
Safewords or safe signals are important for communication and safety, explains Melancon. So before playing, remember to pick a unique word or action that either of you can express to stop the experience at any given time—no questions asked.
"There aren't many true risks here, but if he's uncomfortable and wants to stop, he should be free to express himself, and it's a good idea to discuss how beforehand," she says. "Likewise, his partner should feel free to stop teasing him if she isn't feeling into it herself."
Don't know what to choose? "Watermelon." You're welcome.
Do your research
Skyler reminds those interested in attempting ruined orgasms to read up on dominant/subordinate power dynamics before starting this type of play.
Learning the how-to's from reliable sources on YouTube or well-known industry professionals can help ensure you have a safer, more educated, and pleasurable experience.
Focus on teasing your partner
Ruined orgasms have to do with the amazing buildup and disappointing letdown of that otherwise long-awaited, exciting moment. That's where the art of teasing comes in!
"Slowly tease and build up the sexual tension inside his body. [You] may start and stop just as he's really getting into it, then, after a pause, start back up again," Melancon suggests.
Stop all stimulation prior to climax
Melancon reminds us that a ruined orgasm is when all stimulation is stopped just prior to orgasm. So right as he's about to orgasm, simply stop all movement and stimulation.
"If you've timed it right and he's on the path of no return, his body may begin to convulse and he will moan with discomfort instead of pleasure," she says. Hint: If that happens, you're doing it right!
Ruined orgasm versus edging
There's a pretty clear difference between ruined orgasms and edging, which involves getting right up to the point where you're about to orgasm, stopping temporarily, and then building back up again.
One results in maximum pleasure, whereas the other results in minimal pleasure. (Can you guess which is which?)
"While edging is very pleasurable and results in a longer window of arousal followed typically by an intense orgasm. A ruined orgasm is like the arousal petering out without climax after getting highly aroused," Skyler explains.
"Tease and deny is a related kink and is exactly what it sounds like—one partner teases the other until they're very aroused but stops before the point of orgasm," adds Melancon.
What's the difference? Stimulation stops sooner and isn't meant to ruin the orgasm, she says, but just amp up the teasing aspect.
Why people like ruined orgasms
Ruined orgasms may not sound physically pleasurable, so what's the appeal for each party? Turns out there are many reasons people might enjoy ruined orgasms.
For one, it's a fetish (predominantly among men). But while it's more common for men to desire a ruined orgasm, Melancon says some women find it fun. "It really turns the dominant heterosexual script on its head, where his orgasm is no longer the most important or defining moment of sex."
However, a lot of the excitement boils down to having or lacking control.
"Partners may enjoy the power play and being able to choose where, when, how, and, most importantly, IF [they] get [their] pleasure," says Melancon.
Skyler adds that the power play appeal lies around the "short-term withholding and/or denial of physical pleasure for the larger, mental erotic charge. Many people playing in this arena enjoy giving up the physical sensations of more vanilla-known pleasure in order to experience a more mental [excitement] around power exchange."
Last but not least on the list of perks, ruined orgasms can even help people with penises last longer during sex.
According to Melancon, "if he's allowed to ejaculate but without the pleasurable release of orgasm, he may remain sexually aroused and thus able to engage in more sexual activities."
So whether you're potentially into the power play, pain, or twisted pleasure of it all, try having your next orgasm ruined. Who knows? You might be way more into it than you expect.
Morgan Mandriota is a freelance writer based in New York. Her articles on sex, relationships, health, and travel have been published at Cosmopolitan, SHAPE, Tinder, SheKnows, BuzzFeed, and elsewhere. She has a degree in English with minors in Psychology and Speech Communications from St. Joseph's College.
Mandriota has traveled to a clothing-optional resort in Jamaica, attended sex camp, visited cannabis cafes, tried a liquid vibrator, and spilled her personal dating experiences (read: struggles) on the internet, all in the name of journalism. When she's not writing, she devotes her time to her passion project Highly Untamed, scoping out the best taco spots, training Brazilian jiu-jitsu, and adventuring around seeking inspiration for new stories.