It turns out that some women experience exercise-induced orgasms. Never one to spare our blushes, Ahmed Zambarakji investigates
Features detailing the way in which a guy can negotiate the ‘orgasm discrepancy’ with his female lover (possibly for her pleasure, most likely for his ego) are a mainstay of men’s magazines. During my tenure on these titles, I was inundated with sexual trivia and toys – all of which were designed to close the gap between male and female climax.
The infatuation with bringing a woman to climax is grounded in some hard facts.
According to the University of Chicago, “three-fourths of men, but less than a third of women, always have orgasms” during intercourse. If anecdotal and academic evidence is anything to go by, the female orgasm is as elusive as a three-legged rainbow-belching unicorn.
Except for the woman on the mat next to me in my yoga class.
It is ironic that no male genitalia (or cunning advice from a glossy men’s magazine) were involved when she reached full-body, toe-curling ecstasy from a particularly low boat pose. Repeatedly. What I assumed was a sigh relief from leaving the wretched posture was in fact an ‘exercise induced orgasm’ (EIO) or ‘coregasm’, as it is known by the leagues of gym-addicted fans on the internet.
Now it would appear the academic world is exposing the phenomenon too. A recent study conducted by the University of Indiana published in the journal Sexual and Relationship Therapy suggests that the most orgasm-inducing exercises are “climbing poles or ropes, biking/spinning and weight lifting”.
Anything that involves engaging your abs, basically (incidentally, the most reliable piece of gym equipment to trigger a coregasm is, according to open ended answers from the aforementioned study, the ‘captain’s chair’. This is the cumbersome padded high chair with no seat that demands exercisers to lift their knees up towards their chest and hold them at a 90-degree angle with the body).
Of the women who, ahem, came clean in the study 45% held abdominal exercises responsible, 26.5% weight lifting, 20% yoga (natch), 15.8% cycling and 13.2% running. A lucky – and, one assumes, shockingly sensitive – 9.6% could get off by going for a brisk walk. 40% of respondents had experienced an EIO on more than 10 occasions while the vast majority reported a “degree of self-consciousness when exercising in public places” (clearly my fellow yogini was not included in the study).
Debby Herbenick, co-author of the study, says "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."
While Hebernick claims the mechanics of the coregasm are still TBC, an earlier study – and a bit of common sense - offers a relatively simply explanation. Exercise revs up the sympathetic nervous system and, for women who are already quite sensitive, an increased heart rate, constricted blood vessels, and elevated blood pressure might just be enough to tip them over the edge.
A study entitled Sympathetic Nervous System Activity and Female Sexual Arousal (the clue is in the title) was the first to suggest that the female orgasm could be a “purely physiologic” phenomenon. This fits nicely with Hebernick’s statement that “Most women reporting EIO said they were not fantasizing sexually or thinking about anyone they were attracted to during their experiences”.
Penis nil points.