Wednesday Bubble: Coregasm?

Posted by on Mar 21, 2012 in exercise, sexual desire, sexual health | 10 comments

I ran across an article earlier in the week referencing a new study demonstrating a link between exercise and orgasm. And thought: “hold on.” Yet, a deeper dive into the topic demonstrates that it might very well be true, at least for some women. And while I admit that I am not a fan of the term “coregasm,” I could very easily become a fan of sexual arousal or pleasure during exercise; the premise intrigues me as I start to wonder if there is a way to combat aging issues of sexual desire/dysfunction through certain workouts.

Anyone for an “Exercise-O?” But I digress…

Researchers from the famous Kinsey Sex Institute at the University of Indiana in Bloomington write that “orgasms that occur outside of explicitly “sexual” contexts have received much less attention in sexuality research,” and are considered “anomalies, even pathological.”  One such non-sexual behavior is apparently physical exercise, noting that “in recent years, popular magazines and Internet blogs have described exercise-induced orgasms, frequently identifying them as ‘coregasms’ due to the association between the type of exercise, i.e. those that work on the core, and orgasm.” However, they also say, gratefully, that this terminology might be incorrect due to a lack of evidence linking orgasm to core muscle activity.

So, why is this important anyhow (besides the obvious)?

Orgasm is incompletely understood and for women in particular, it’s often linked to a variety of factors, including sexual arousal, environment, life stressors, partner intimacy and caring and of course, lubrication. And, in my research I’ve discovered that for some women who experience exercise-related orgasm, they may start very early before they participate in sexual activity with a partner, necessitating counseling and assistance in transferring the ability from sports to a human, if you will. Moreover, as the researchers say, given the attempts to enhance sexual arousal, perhaps this research can start to shed some light.

Consequently, they surveyed 530 women between the ages of 18 and 56 who reported experiencing exercise-induced orgasm or exercise-induced sexual pleasure (i.e. coming close to orgasm during exercise) via email messages. The results, which were published last November in Sexual and Relationship Therapy are intriguing:

  • 40% or more of women reported having had experienced exercise induced orgasm or sexual pleasure during exercise 11 or more times in their lifetime
  • Almost 44% said that the first time it happened, it was during abdominal exercises, and over 50% reported having an orgasm during situps or crunches within the past three months. Other types of exercise that appeared to spur on recent orgasm included weight lifting (26.5%), yoga (20%), biking or spinning (15.9%), swimming or water aerobics (17.9%), running (13.2%) and walking or hiking (9.6%)
  • Many of these same exercises were reported by women who experienced sexual pleasure, including biking/spinning, sit ups/crunches, lifting weights and yoga.

So, how do women feel about these experiences? Apparently, most say that while they are happy about these experiences, those who actually experience orgasm while exercising also express feeling embarassed or self conscious, fearing discovery by others if they vocalize their pleasure. Two women* I spoke to told me that if they are alone, they rarely do anything to stop it although they do control any overt visible displays. In public, they let it go on for as long as they can without losing ‘control’ and then deliberately redirect attention to the exercise. In fact, in the study, at least a third of women in the survey in either group reported that they could control their experience.

Women who orgasm during physical activity also say that it occurs without sexual fantasies, which suggests that perhaps there is a component of orgasm that is totally unrelated to sex. Yet, there are some women who associated sexual thoughts first, noting that they are very aware how many reps or time spent exercising will bring on an orgasm.This begs the chicken/egg question: does pleasure while exercise beget adjustment of thinking beget orgasm? Moreover, some women reported being motivated to exercise to reach orgasm or experience sexual pleasure, which takes away the spontaneous aspect of any hypothesis.

Regardless, the two women I spoke with in my side research shared some advice for those of who are fortunate enough to have experienced this. If you’re new to the exercise-O, game, Natalie offers this: “it takes a bit of self-control so in the beginning, you have to figure out what’s happening (“is this what I think it is?!”), acknowledge it and then purposefully redirect your attention to your surroundings.” For the more experienced, Ashley said that women should enjoy it. “You are lucky. Once you recognize what’s happening, enjoy it until you reach that point where you NEED to vocalize or publicly display your experience.” At that point, she adds, “I highly advise a quick “oh, I’ll save it for later…” and similar to Natalie’s advice, she says to redirect your thoughts.

Ironically, both women caution that if you are exercise-O prone, to stay away from moving objects, such as biking on the street or skiing, noting that the obvious: the moment it might take to calm your parts can mean an serious accident!

The researchers caution that more study is needed, especially since women were recruited online and that there was no quality measurement tool with which to gauge questions and answers. They also say that future research might want to focus on men’s experiences with exercise induced orgasm and sexual pleasure. Moreover, the triggers of either are still unknown. Still, the fact that I was able to quickly find two women who have experienced this phenomenon tells me that there are likely a lot more out there.

I’m intrigued. This could open up an entire new world. And I would love to see more of these types of studies done in women 50 and older. Until then? I prefer the term exercise-O over coregasm. But that’s just me. And this bubble ain’t burst. How refreshing!


*Names changed to protect identities.




  1. 3-21-2012

    This has totally happens to me during abdominal exercises. I can’t even believe I am sharing this with the world, but hey, it happens. Funny thing, I thought I was the only one. 🙂

    • 3-21-2012

      Really? I guess that there are more women out there than suspected. Wish I had known; I would have interviewed you as well. But appreciate you sharing publicly. Perhaps you can share some advice for others…if you are comfortable doing so. Thanks for weighing in.

    • 3-28-2012
      • 3-28-2012

        Wow, thanks for sharing that Paul!

  2. 3-21-2012

    Well how could you know, Liz? It’s not really lunch talk, is it? For me, it only happens with specific exercises and to be honest, it’s kind of distracting so I either don’t do them OR I stop before things get out of control. LOL. It really doesn’t effect how or when I work out since I can control it by not doing particular exercises. As I said, it’s more distracting than anything else.

  3. 3-21-2012

    So I’m not alone! I’ve experienced these for years and always during the same exercise. It’s the abdominal one where you support your upper body on arm rests and lift your legs. It’s a great exercise but I typically avoid it because I fear the time when I’m unable to control my facial expressions as well as other physical responses. I’m intrigued. Thanks Liz, I’m going to go back and read the full study.

    • 3-21-2012

      Actually, there was reference to the ‘captain’s chair’ in the full study but I didn’t include it in my write up.

  4. 3-21-2012

    This is pretty amazing, I definitely had no idea. One thing I did know was that core exercises are very important for women as they age if they want to maintain good sexual health. I wonder if there is any connection?!

    • 3-21-2012

      Perhaps we will discover there is one! I am happy to hear that other women experience this. Hardly a pathology, right?!

  5. 3-22-2012

    I have experienced “coregasms” as well, and this began when I was in my late teens. It was always experienced during abdominal exercises, specifically leg lifts or anything supporting lower body with upper body with emphasis on increasing core strength. I never fantasized sexually before the “O,” and I do remember feeling a bit awkward or embarrassed that this happened to me, not knowing at the time that I was not the only one.

    Those “O’s” do not come as easily as they used to, but I’ll be 52 in June, so maybe age has an effect on the intensity and involuntariness. 🙂

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