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The Boston Globe

Health & wellness

Orgasms when you exercise? Research suggests it’s possible

Have you ever heard of a coregasm? That’s an orgasm that occurs from engaging your core muscles when you exercise. I certainly hadn’t until I read a new Indiana University study published this week that confirms what Cosmopolitan magazine has been telling its readers for years: it’s actually possible, at least in women.

The study, which surveyed 530 women who volunteered to answer questions about their sexual feelings when exercising, found that 370 of the survey respondents reported experiencing either an orgasm or sexual pleasure when they exercised. About one-third of that group said they occasionally had all-out orgasms most often while doing abdominal exercises, which strengthen core muscles, as well as climbing ropes, weight lifting or running.

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Those sound like ridiculously high numbers to me, and study author Debby Herbenick told me that the study wasn’t designed to get the real incidence of exercise-induced orgasms -- just to prove they actually occur and to get a sense of the kinds of activities that bring them on.

She’d been hearing from female students enrolled in her human sexuality course that this happened to them when they exercised, which spurred her to conduct a survey. The results were published in the peer-reviewed journal, Sexual and Relationship Therapy.

“We don’t really know why these orgasms happen,” said Herbenick, “but I prefer not to call them coregasms since they sometimes involve genital friction -- biking, spinning, pole climbing -- not just working the core muscles.”

A majority of the study participants said the pleasure they received from exercise made them self-conscious about exercising in front of other people, but many said they could avoid particular activities or, say, limit the amount of crunches to keep sensations under control in public.

Researchers have been studying the arousal effects of exercise for some time, but this is the first study to actual examine orgasms themselves. Next up for Herbenick? She’s planning to conduct a survey to see if the phenomenon occurs in men.

“I’ve heard from a number of men in recent days who’ve told me they experience the same thing when exercising,” she said. “That surprised me since I’d never heard from any before.”

Deborah Kotz can be reached at dkotz@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @debkotz2.

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