Can Exercise Really Trigger Orgasm?

BlogHer Original Post

For years now we have heard stories about women who reached orgasm working out, but very little data existed to corroborate that this was more than myth. That will change upon the release of the next issue of the peer-reviewed Sexual and Relationship Therapy, which will include recent findings into the topic by a team of researchers at Indiana University.

These results are based on a survey of 124 women who reported reaching orgasm by exercising, and 246 women who reported experiencing sexual pleasure through exercising. The women surveyed were between 18 and 63 years-old. Most were married or in a relationship and 69 percent described themselves as heterosexual.

Of the women who orgasmed while working out, 45 percent did so while working out their abdominal muscles, or “core” (hence the term “coregasm”). Nineteen percent climaxed while biking or spinning, 9.3 did so while climbing rope or a pole, seven did so while lifting weights, another 7 percent did so while running, and the rest broke down among doing yoga, swimming, working on elliptical machines, doing aerobics, and a few others. A whopping 45 percent of the women surveyed reported having their first exercise-induced orgasm while working out their abdominal muscles.

Photo by Ron Sombilon (Flickr)

Some 40 percent of the women surveyed had experienced either orgasm or sexual pleasure while working out on more than ten occasions. Most of the women who reached orgasm were not fantasizing about sexual situations at any time before climaxing. Twenty percent indicated to researchers that they could not control their climaxes.

Open-ended questions in the survey seemed to suggest that orgasm was more likely to occur after several sets of abdominal exercises, rather than within a couple of repetitions.

"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,” said researcher Debby Herbenick, who is also co-director of the Center for Sexual Health Promotion at Indiana University. "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."

As Jeanna Bryner notes in an article on Discovery News, "scientists have long debated the evolutionary context of the female orgasm and its link to sexuality and reproduction. However, if many women are experiencing orgasm during exercises not related to sex, then exercise-induced orgasm may reveal what orgasm does and does not have to do with sex or reproduction."

This study could open the door to research that could help clarify the question of the evolutionary role played by female orgasm. As it is, much work remains to be done still. Researchers do not yet understand the mechanisms involved in exercise-induced sexual pleasure and orgasm, nor have they a grasp on what triggers this type of response. Neither can they make any conclusive statements about whether these types of exercise can improve a woman’s level of sexual fulfillment.

AV Flox is the section editor of Love & Sex and Health on BlogHer. You can connect with her on Twitter @avflox, Google Plus +AV Flox, or e-mail her directly at av.flox AT


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