The researchers explain that "coregasm" - reaching an orgasm from exercising the core abdominal muscles - has been mentioned in the media for some time. However, they add that the findings in this latest study are new.
"The most common exercises associated with exercise-induced orgasm were abdominal exercises, climbing poles or ropes, biking/spinning and weight lifting. 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."
Herbenick, and Fortenberry carried out online surveys which included 124 adult females who said they had had an orgasm while exercising, known as EIO (exercise-induced orgasm), and another 246 who reported having experienced exercise-induced sexual pleasure (EISP). They were aged form 18 to 63 years, the majority of whom were either married or in a relationship. Approximately 69% of them said they were heterosexual.
The most common exercises associated with exercise-induced orgasm were abdominal exercises
The researchers found that:
- Approximately 40% of those who had experienced an orgasm or sexual pleasure during exercise had done so at least ten times
- Those who reached orgasm while exercising said they felt self-conscious when exercising in public places.
- About 20% of those who experienced orgasm while they exercised said they were not able to control their experience
- The majority of those who reached orgasm during exercise said they were not having any sexual fantasy or thinking about an attractive person during their experience
- In the EIO group, 51.4% said they reached orgasm in connection with abdominal exercises they had done during the previous ninety days
- 26.5% of those in the EIO group linked their experience to weight lifting
- 20% of the EIO women associated their experience to yoga
- 15.8% of the EIO females linked their experience to bicycling
- 13.2% of the EIO women connected their experience to hiking/running
- The most likely abdominal exercise to produce a female orgasm was the "captain's chair". The exerciser rests her elbows on padded arm rests with her back against a support - her legs hang free - she raises her knees upwards towards her chest several times.
The authors hope that women who experience either orgasm or sexual pleasure during exercise may feel, after reading about this study, that their responses are normal experiences.
Whether or not specific exercises may help improve a female's sexual experiences was not an aim of this study. The authors caution readers to make no assumptions until other more specific studies have been carried out.
"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."
Even though they had not set out to determine how common orgasms or sexual pleasure are during exercise among women, the authors believe it is not rare - in just five weeks they managed to recruit 370 adult females who had such experiences.
"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."