Exercise can launch orgasms in women: Study

"Coregasm," long a rumor in the scientific world, is real, claims a new study from Indiana University and published in the peer-reviewed journal Sexual and Relationship Therapy.

A new study from Indiana University has confirmed—using anecdotal evidence—that exercise can result in female orgasm. The phenomenon is sometimes referred to as “coregasm,” because the orgasms are often associated with core abdominal exercises.

Rumors that women sometimes experience coregasms, with no sex or fantasies involved, have persisted for years, but this is a first-of-its-kind study from IU.

"The most common exercises associated with exercise-induced orgasm were abdominal exercises, climbing poles or ropes, biking/spinning and weight lifting," said Debby Herbenick, co-director of the Center for Sexual Health Promotion in IU's School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation. "These data are interesting because they suggest that orgasm is not necessarily a sexual event, and they may also teach us more about the bodily processes underlying women's experiences of orgasm."

The results are based on surveys administered online to 124 women who reported experiencing exercise-induced orgasms (EIO) and 246 women who experienced exercise-induced sexual pleasure (EISP). The women ranged in age from 18 to 63. Most were in a relationship or married, and about 69 percent identified themselves as heterosexual. Key findings by the study authors include the following:

  • About 40 percent of women who had experienced EIO and EISP had done so on more than 10 occasions.
  • Most of the women in the EIO group reported feeling some degree of self-consciousness when exercising in public places, with about 20 percent reporting they could not control their experience.
  • Most women reporting EIO said they were not fantasizing sexually or thinking about anyone they were attracted to during their experiences.
  • Diverse types of physical exercise were associated with EIO and EISP. Of the EIO group, 51.4 percent reported experiencing an orgasm in connection with abdominal exercises within the previous 90 days. Others reported experiencing orgasm in connection to such exercises as weight lifting (26.5 percent), yoga (20 percent), bicycling (15.8), running (13.2 percent) and walking/hiking (9.6 percent).
  • In open-ended responses, ab exercises were particularly associated with the "captain's chair," which consists of a rack with padded arm rests and back support that allows the legs to hang free. The goal is to repeatedly lift the knees toward the chest or toward a 90-degree angle with the body.

Herbenick said they hope to learn about mechanisms behind exercise-induced orgasm and exercise-induced sexual pleasure in future studies. Whether or not these experiences can improve a woman’s sexual experiences is yet unknown.

"It may be that exercise—which is already known to have significant benefits to health and well-being—has the potential to enhance women's sexual lives as well,” Herbenick speculated.

How common the phenomenon of coregasms is still unknown, but the authors did indicate that it took them only five weeks to find 370 women who said they do have coregasms, suggesting that it is not a rare occurrence. But, more research is still needed, Herbenick said.

"Magazines and blogs have long highlighted cases of what they sometimes call 'coregasms.' But aside from early reports by Kinsey and colleagues, this is an area of women's sexual health research that has been largely ignored over the past six decades."

The study article, “Exercise-induced orgasm and pleasure among women,” is available online on the Sexual and Relationship Therapy journal website.

Image: Wikimedia Commons