According to researcher Debby Herbenick
, co-director of the Center for Sexual Health Promotion at Indiana University, the new findings provides new evidence in a field that has not been widely researched.
reports that the famous sex researcher Alfred Kinsey
and his colleagues, first reported the phenomenon of exercise-induced orgasm in women in 1953. Kinsey and his colleagues noted that about 5 percent of women interviewed associated physical exercise with sexual orgasm. Live Science
notes, however, that Kinsey and his co-workers could not determine the incidence of this phenomenon because the women who volunteered the information did so without being asked.
The orgasms women report they experience during work-outs appear linked to exercises of the core abdominal muscles, for which reason they have been termed "coregasms. "
Herbenick and her colleagues, writing in a special issue of the journal Sexual and Relationship Therapy
, said: "Despite attention in the popular media, little is known scientifically about exercise-induced orgasms."
The researchers' online survey included 124 women who had experienced "coregasms" and 246 women who only reported exercised-induced sexual pleasure. The women aged 18 to 63, with an average age of 30, were mostly married or in relationship, and 69 percent said they were heterosexual.
The researchers found that 40 percent of both groups had experienced exercise-induced pleasure or orgasm on more than 11 occasions in the past. Most of those who had experienced orgasms said they felt some embarrassment when they experienced the orgasm while exercising in public places. Most women who experienced the orgasm during exercise see it as bothersome rather than a desirable event, and a fifth of the women who experienced it said they have no control over the event.
According to Herbenick et al
, those who had orgasm said they were not thinking or fantasying about sex when the orgasm happened. Out of those who had orgasm during exercise, 45 percent said their first experience happened during abdominal exercises, 19 percent associated it with biking/spinning and 9.3 percent linked it to climbing poles or ropes. 7 percent associated their orgasms with weighlifting, 7 percent with running and the rest associated it with various execises such as running, swimming aerobics and elliptical machines.
reports that the researchers said it took them only five weeks to find enough women who had experienced the phenomenon for their study, indicating it was not rare among women.
The data showed that abdominal exercises were most linked with exercise-induced orgasms and occurred more often in those exercises in which the woman worked-out on a gym device known as a "captain's chair." (see video above for demonstration of the "captain's chair"
). According to Daily Mail
, "To perform the exercise, you stand with your forearms resting on the padded armrests of the chair, which are positioned at right angles to the body. You then squeeze your abdominal muscles (which support the trunk of the body) to help you lift your knees to your chest before lowering the feet to the floor again."
The survey also showed that orgasms occurred more often after several repetitions of the exercise motions when the woman's core muscles had been very highly worked-out.
According to Daily Mail
, 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."
Herbenick added: "Many of these women talked about it happening even as children." Some of the participants said they had experienced it as early as 7 or 8 years of age. Hebernick said: "We had at least one woman in the study who was a virgin, and she really loved that she could have these experiences at the gym."
Researchers are not yet sure why certain forms of exercises tend to lead to orgasms or even sexual pleasure. But Herbenick speculates that: "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 new study is important because it may give some clues about female sexuality, given the fact that a significant number of women report they never have orgasms during sex. IB Times
reports that an Australian sex researcher Marita McCabe, of the Deakin University, had, in a previous study, said about 55% of women have difficulty with sexual satisfaction and are too stressed for sex.
Experts report one out of four women do not experience sexual orgasm. The study suggested: "It may be that physical exercise has been overlooked in clinical approaches to women's orgasm."
The question of the evolutionary connection between female orgasm, sexuality and reproduction is also of interest to researchers.The thinking is that if women may readily experience orgasm in exercise conditions unrelated to sex then this may reveal the sexual reproductive significance of female orgasm, if any at all. In addition, studying exercise-induced orgasm may shed light on the process of orgasm itself.
reports Urologist Jennifer R. Berman, director of the Berman Women's Wellness Center in Beverly Hills, said that exercises that target lower abdominal muscles strengthen pelvic muscles which are involved during sexual orgasm in women. She said: "Fit pelvic muscles can result in more powerful orgasms."
Herbenick also noted: "I think from having talked with colleagues, while some people have heard of these [exercise-induced orgasms], many of our colleagues haven't either. So I think that's going to be interesting." She said some scientists may raise questions: "'Is this a tooth fairy type of thing or does it really happen?'" She answered emphatically, "I have no doubt that it happens."