No Sex Required: Women Have Orgasms at the Gym

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THE GIST

- Orgasms tended to occur after multiple sets of crunches or some other abdominal exercise rather than after just a couple repetitions.

- Exercise-induced orgasms may be one way for scientists, and women themselves, to learn about the process of orgasm.

Women may not need a guy, a vibrator, or any other direct sexual stimulation to have an orgasm, finds a new study on exercise-induced orgasms and sexual pleasure.

The findings add qualitative and quantitative data to a field that has been largely unstudied, according to researcher Debby Herbenick, co-director of the Center for Sexual Health Promotion at Indiana University. For instance, Alfred Kinsey and his colleagues first reported the phenomenon in 1953, saying that about 5 percent of women they had interviewed mentioned orgasm linked to physical exercise. However, they couldn't know the actual prevalence because most of these women volunteered the information without being directly asked.

Since then, reports of so-called "coregasms," named because of their seeming link to exercises for core abdominal muscles, have circulated in the media for years, according to the researchers.

"Despite attention in the popular media, little is known scientifically about exercise-induced orgasms," the researchers write in a special issue of the journal Sexual and Relationship Therapy released in print this month. [5 Myths About Women's Bodies]

Pleasure at the gym

Herbenick and her colleagues used online surveys to gather their data, which included answers from 124 women who had experienced exercise-induced orgasms and 246 women who reported exercise-induced sexual pleasure. Most of the women, ages 18 to 63 and an average age of 30, were in a relationship or married and 69 percent said they were heterosexual.

The researchers found that about 40 percent of both groups of women had experienced exercise-induced pleasure or orgasm on more than 11 occasions in their lives. Most of the women in the "orgasm" group said they felt some level of embarrassment when exercising in public places.

The "orgasm" group mostly said during the experiences they weren't having a sexual fantasy or thinking about someone they were attracted to.

Of the women who had orgasms during exercise, about 45 percent said their first experience was linked to abdominal exercises; 19 percent linked to biking/spinning; 9.3 percent linked to climbing poles or ropes; 7 percent reported a connection with weight lifting; 7 percent running;  the rest of the experiences included various exercises, such as yoga, swimming, elliptical machines, aerobics and others. Exercise-induced sexual pleasure was linked with more types of exercises than the orgasm phenomenon.