Exercise triggers orgasm, women admit in new study. Ladies, do you find it hard to get out of bed to hit the gym or pavement? If so, here’s the motivation you’ve been looking for. A new study suggests that up to 15 percent of women have orgasms when they exercise.
“It sounds like a pornographic fitness flick: women, sweaty from physical exertion, climaxing at the gym,” quips TIME Magazine. But researchers at Indiana University have confirmed through a study that women can have orgasms while they exercise.
The researchers have even dubbed the phenomenon “coregasm” because it often happens while doing core abdominal muscle exercises. Their findings were published on March 19 in the special issue of the journal Sexual and Relationship Therapy.
What’s more, orgasms while exercising may be more common than you think — the researchers report that it took them only five weeks to recruit 370 women who said they experience “coregasm.”
Researchers led by Debby Herbenick, co-director of the Center for Sexual Health Promotion at Indiana University, sent emails to various web sites geared to fitness and health.
Right now, there’s no scientific literature about orgasm while exercising, so researchers prompted survey respondents to provide as much detail as possible. The investigators also asked the women about the types of exercises they were doing when they experienced orgasm, if the phenomenon happened repeatedly, and whether they could control it.
“We didn’t know how many women we would find and it turns out, it wasn’t that difficult,” says Herbenick. “In five weeks, we found 100 women who had experienced orgasm and a couple of hundred others who didn’t have orgasm but felt highly aroused and close to orgasm.”
Together with her co-author Dr. J. Dennis Fortenberry, professor at the Indiana University School of Medicine, Herbenick analyzed the responses of 370 women, ages 18 to 63, who responded to their online query.
Here’s what they found:
• Of the respondents, 124 said they had experienced exercise-induced orgasm (EIO)
• 246 reported exercise-induced sexual pleasure (EISP)
• Most were married or in a relationship
• 69 percent identified themselves as heterosexual
• More than 40 percent of those who’d experienced so-called EISP and EIO reported it had happened more than 10 times
• Most said they were self-conscious when it happened in public places, but about 10 percent could not control their experience.
• 52 percent of orgasms occurred during abdominal exercises — particularly the “captain’s chair”
• 26 percent occurred during weight lifting
• 20 percent happened during yoga
• 16 percent transpired while bicycling
• 13 percent took place while running
• 10 percent happened while walking or hiking
• The catalyst seems to be the exertion itself — most respondents said they weren’t daydreaming about sex at all.
“The most common exercises associated with exercise-induced orgasm were abdominal exercises, climbing poles or ropes, biking/spinning and weight lifting,” Herbenick says.
The infamous orgasm-trigger — “captain’s chair” — is a contraption that allows a user to support her arms and back against a frame while letting her legs dangle. The exercise involves repeatedly raises her legs into a sitting position.
Some women surveyed said they felt self-consciousness when they climaxed during exercise, saying they couldn’t help but make sounds during orgasm.
One woman wrote about biking strenuously uphill when she felt an orgasm coming on; embarrassed, she tried to hide it from her biking partner. “I had to really grind into the pedals. This must have caused me to rub on the seat in just the right away. I thought I was starting to cramp, but soon realized it felt great. (I) thought I should stop, but chose not to!”
Another woman described literally falling off a piece of gym equipment. Still another woman recalled an errant medicine ball flying across the gym after she lost control. One woman said she had attained orgasm during exercise, but never when she had marital sex.
Some older women who participated in the study said they had first experienced EIO or EISP in childhood during the President’s Challenge, a fitness initiative that was launched in the 1960s. “Some talked about this happening as children during the Presidential fitness challenge, during pull-ups or chin-ups,” says Herbenick.
Herbenick says women don’t orgasm during their first sit-up. “It’s often on number 15 or number 30,” she says.
“It usually happens after lots of sun salutations when I’m pretty drenched in sweat,” said Sheila Hageman, a mother and blogger from Stratford, Connecticut who does yoga. “My whole is body buzzing from the movement and my mind enters this totally transcendental, but at the same time grounding, burst.” She’s had the same experience with breathing exercises — “the snapping in of your belly in a meditative state.”
Of ‘coregasm,’ Terri Walsh, owner of ART Studio NYC, says, “I believe it totally.” She says she’s heard of women having orgasms when they were doing deep yoga abdominal contractions that can expand to the pelvic floor. “Sometimes “it’s a surprise to the woman who’s getting it,” she says.
“I never had anybody have an orgasm in my presence — as far as I know,” says Walsh, 48. “But I definitely heard about it in my spinning classes. A lot of exercise, when it’s done properly, can get you in tune with your body. Sometimes you get in tune with it quicker than your mind can.”
Herbenick said that research would continue in order to help those who may never have experienced orgasm.
The journal Sexual and Relationship Therapy devoted its special issue to the topic orgasm. One article dealt with non-genital kinds of orgasms deriving from mental fantasy, one discussed tantra and orgasm, another delved into the criticisms about a perceived superiority complex surrounding vaginal orgasm. Says Herbenick: “It’s a very interesting issue.”
Here are some more facts about women and orgasm that aren’t found in the new study, but taken from previous research:
• It takes women an average of four minutes to reach orgasm alone, but 10 to 20 minutes with a partner.
• Men reach it at 2-3 minutes.
• 10 -15 percent of women have never had an orgasm at all.
• One out of every three women says she doesn’t reach orgasm with a partner.
• Having an orgasm while sleeping — called “sleep-related female orgasm” or “female nocturnal orgasm” — is extremely common
• 75 percent of men surveyed had never heard of “sleep-related female orgasm”
“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,” she said.
The study also might normalize the experience for women, or possibly enhance arousal during masturbation or sex with a partner, according to Herbenick.
“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 concludes.