Study: Exercise can lead to female orgasm, sexual pleasure

This is researcher Debby Herbenick. Credit: Indiana University

Findings from a first-of-its-kind study by Indiana University researchers confirm anecdotal evidence that exercise -- absent sex or fantasies -- can lead to female orgasm.

While the findings are new, reports of this phenomenon, sometimes called "coregasm" because of its association with exercises for core , have circulated in the media for years, said Debby Herbenick, co-director of the Center for Promotion in IU's School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation. In addition to being a researcher, Herbenick is a widely read advice columnist and book author.

"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 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 findings are published in a special issue of Sexual and Relationship Therapy, a leading peer-reviewed journal in the area of and sexual health. Co-author is J. Dennis Fortenberry, M.D., professor at the IU School of Medicine and Center for Sexual Health Promotion affiliate.

The results are based on surveys administered online to 124 who reported experiencing exercise-induced orgasms (EIO) and 246 women who experienced exercise-induced (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.

Here are some key findings:

  • 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 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 that the mechanisms behind exercise-induced orgasm and exercise-induced sexual pleasure remain unclear and, in future research, they hope to learn more about 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.

Herbenick cautioned that it is not yet known whether such exercises can improve women's sexual experiences.

"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."

The study did not determine how common it is for women to experience exercise-induced or exercise-induced sexual pleasure. But the authors note that it took only five weeks to recruit the 370 women who experienced the phenomenon, suggesting it is not rare.

"Magazines and blogs have long highlighted cases of what they sometimes call 'coregasms,'" Herbenick said. "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."

Related Stories

Sexual intimacy and breast cancer survivors: New research

Nov 10, 2008

An Indiana University study found that young, female breast cancer survivors often suffer from sexual and intimate relationship issues and are interested in using sexual enhancement products to treat these problems.

Sexual satisfaction in women increases with age

Jan 03, 2012

A new study of sexually active older women has found that sexual satisfaction in women increases with age and those not engaging in sex are satisfied with their sex lives. A majority of study participants report frequent ...

Recommended for you

Errata frequently seen in medical literature

17 hours ago

(HealthDay)—Errata, including those that may materially change the interpretation of data, are frequent in medical publications, according to a study published in the August issue of The American Journal of ...

Seven US-based researchers share $1.3M eyesight prize

Sep 10, 2014

Seven U.S.-based researchers are sharing a €1 million ($1.3 million) prize from a Portuguese foundation for their work developing treatment for angiogenic diseases of the retina, the leading cause of blindness in the developed ...

User comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Duude
3 / 5 (2) Mar 19, 2012
How long before some guy complains about his woman leaving him for the gym?
A2G
1 / 5 (1) Mar 19, 2012
IS the researcher shown in the photograph one of those women who can achieve orgasms this way? If so then that explains her broad smile.
doctordawg
not rated yet Mar 20, 2012
I remember this phenomenon as a young teen boy climbing ropes or trees. Interesting that women might still have this reflex in adulthood.

It's kind of a shame that Americans can't embrace pleasure. I mean, really, if you knew the woman who came to the gym was in fantastic shape as a result of coregasms, wouldn't that be a great thing? Would it bother you if the woman next to you was experiencing coregasms? Why? It doesn't seem to bother anyone when she's drunk off her bar stool in public.

We watch movies where women are shot and killed on tv, but can't bear seeing her having an orgasm. Odd people, we.
fastseth
5 / 5 (1) Mar 22, 2012
What are the chances this researcher just wanted to go to the gym and lift weights with fit women?
210
1 / 5 (1) Mar 22, 2012
How long before some guy complains about his woman leaving him for the gym?

Yeah...but I don't think you spelled his name right...(Jim)...but I feel ya!

word-to-these muthas
SteveL
not rated yet Mar 22, 2012
Herbenick cautioned that it is not yet known whether such exercises can improve women's sexual experiences.
According to research done in the 1970's improving general physical condition tends to improve both sexual experiences and sexual opportunity.

210
1 / 5 (1) Mar 22, 2012
What are the chances this researcher just wanted to go to the gym and lift weights with fit women?

Hey I wouldn't know personally, but, there is her picture and I hear...lesbos do frequent the fitness scene, to MAKE a scene...go check!

word-to-the-muthas
210
1 / 5 (1) Mar 22, 2012
I remember this phenomenon as a young teen boy climbing ropes or trees. Interesting that women might still have this reflex in adulthood.
It's kind of a shame that Americans can't embrace pleasure. I mean, really, if you knew the woman who came to the gym was in fantastic shape as a result of coregasms, wouldn't that be a great thing? Would it bother you if the woman next to you was experiencing coregasms?
We watch movies where women are shot and killed on tv, but can't bear seeing her having an orgasm.

Wha? Huh? What's this guy talkin bout..."Americans" like you don't know that there are over 330 Million Americans and you R preaching at the choir...! If anything, we might be upset she got happy and left us OUT...nobody I know is 'angry' at a woman having pleasure, Hell, they leave your arse and get half the money and all the P'Tang...what's wrong with you man writing stuff like this..peep...come down outta that darn tree & don't mess with the U.S.!

word-to-this-mutha
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (2) Mar 24, 2012
She looks...happy. Sated? She does look fit. Any chance this article is a hoax? I remember one like it about a year that got yanked-
Tausch
1 / 5 (1) Mar 25, 2012
On depends on the height of bicycle handlebars:

http://medicalxpr...ale.html

tantor
not rated yet Mar 25, 2012
From the previous comments it seems the collective emotional age is,oh 12. And when did a woman become a lesbian just because they were not attracted to a vanilla ice wanna-be?
SteveL
not rated yet Mar 26, 2012
@tantor - Good points. The formula for male IQ during conversations involving female orgasm is:

Relative IQ = ((IQ/3.141592658)plus(age*2))

This means that happily as we age, eventually we can discuss the subject without drooling like a 9 month old baby. Provided of course that we are reasonably intelligent initially.