Indiana University (IU) researchers say they have confirmed that exercise alone – without any sexual act or fantasy – can produce a female orgasm, a phenomenon they refer to as a “coregasm.”
Researcher Debby Herbenick (pictured), said that while the findings are new, reports of the coregasm (so-called because of its association with exercises for core abdominal muscles) have circulated anecdotally for some time.
“The most common exercises associated with exercise-induced orgasm were abdominal exercises, climbing poles or ropes, biking/spinning and weight lifting,” Herbenick said. “These data 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.”
Herbenick, co-director of IU’s Center for Sexual Health, conducted the research with J. Dennis Fortenberry, a professor at the IU School of Medicine. Their findings appear in the journal Sexual and Relationship Therapy.
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 two-thirds identified themselves as heterosexual.
Key findings include:
- About 40 percent of the 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 and about 20 percent reported they could not control the experience.
- Most women reported they were not fantasizing sexually or thinking about anyone they were attracted to during their experiences.
In their findings, the authors note that it took only five weeks to recruit the 370 women who experienced exercise-induced orgasms or exercise-induced sexual pleasure, suggesting the phenomena are not rare.
Herbenick said that the mechanisms behind exercise-induced orgasm and exercise-induced sexual pleasure remained unclear but she hopes to learn more about the triggers for both. She also said that study findings may help women who experience EIO/EISP feel more normal about their experiences or put them into context. “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,” she speculated.