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IU Health and Wellness: Study confirms exercise-induced orgasm; plus travel tips for teens

Research and insights from Indiana University

March 19, 2012

IU Health and Wellness for March discusses the following topics:

• Study involves exercise-induced orgasm, pleasure
• Traveling teens: plan ahead and discuss expectations

Study: Exercise can lead to female orgasm, sexual pleasure


Graham King

Findings from a first-of-its-kind study by Indiana University researchers confirm anecdotal evidence that exercise -- absent sex or fantasies -- can lead to female orgasm.

While the findings are new, reports of this phenomenon, sometimes called "coregasm" because of its association with exercises for core abdominal muscles, have circulated in the media for years, said Debby Herbenick, co-director of the Center for Sexual Health Promotion in IU's School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation. In addition to being a researcher, Herbenick is a widely read advice columnist and book author.

"The most common exercises associated with exercise-induced orgasm were abdominal exercises, climbing poles or ropes, biking/spinning and weight lifting," 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."

The findings are published in a special issue of Sexual and Relationship Therapy, a leading peer-reviewed journal in the area of sex therapy and sexual health. Co-author is J. Dennis Fortenberry, M.D., professor at the IU School of Medicine and Center for Sexual Health Promotion affiliate.

The results are based on surveys administered online to 124 women who reported experiencing exercise-induced orgasms (EIO) and 246 women who experienced exercise-induced sexual pleasure (EISP). The women ranged in age from 18 to 63. Most were in a relationship or married, and about 69 percent identified themselves as heterosexual.

Here are some key findings:

  • About 40 percent of women who had experienced EIO and EISP had done so on more than 10 occasions.
  • Most of the women in the EIO group reported feeling some degree of self-consciousness when exercising in public places, with about 20 percent reporting they could not control their experience.
  • Most women reporting EIO said they were not fantasizing sexually or thinking about anyone they were attracted to during their experiences.
  • Diverse types of physical exercise were associated with EIO and EISP. Of the EIO group, 51.4 percent reported experiencing an orgasm in connection with abdominal exercises within the previous 90 days. Others reported experiencing orgasm in connection to such exercises as weight lifting (26.5 percent), yoga (20 percent), bicycling (15.8), running (13.2 percent) and walking/hiking (9.6 percent).
  • In open-ended responses, ab exercises were particularly associated with the "captain's chair," which consists of a rack with padded arm rests and back support that allows the legs to hang free. The goal is to repeatedly lift the knees toward the chest or toward a 90-degree angle with the body.

Herbenick said that the mechanisms behind exercise-induced orgasm and exercise-induced sexual pleasure remain unclear and, in future research, they hope to learn more about triggers for both. She also said that study findings may help women who experience EIO/EISP feel more normal about their experiences or put them into context. Herbenick cautioned that it is not yet known whether such exercises can improve women's sexual experiences. "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 study did not determine how common it is for women to experience exercise-induced orgasm or exercise-induced sexual pleasure. But the authors note that it took only five weeks to recruit the 370 women who experienced the phenomenon, suggesting it is not rare.

"Magazines and blogs have long highlighted cases of what they sometimes call 'coregasms,'" Herbenick said. "But aside from early reports by Kinsey and colleagues, this is an area of women's sexual health research that has been largely ignored over the past six decades."

To speak with the researchers, contact Tracy James at 812-855-0084 or Top

Traveling teens: plan ahead and discuss expectations

It's not uncommon for teens to travel to other states -- or other countries -- unsupervised. Planning ahead can make the trips fun and safe for the travelers, and (maybe) more relaxing for parents.

"It is a personal decision between parents and their children if they allow them to travel without an adult," said Amanda Cecil, assistant professor at the IU School of Physical Education and Tourism Management. "It should be openly discussed what expectations they have for their children if they allow them to travel on spring break with a group of other teens."

If parents decide to allow their teens to travel, here are a few tips to make sure the trip goes smoothly:

  • Do your research. If you are sending a group of teens unescorted, most hotels will require a person over the age of 24 to secure a room. The hotel industry has gotten stricter on age requirements, and if something happens, the adult booking the room might be liable for damages. Try setting rules and consequences for the teens so they remember to be respectful of the property.
  • Secure transportation. If your son or daughter is going on a cruise or leaving the country, plan far enough in advance to obtain a passport. It will often take a few weeks to receive a passport after the application has been processed. If your son or daughter is planning to travel in a vehicle during the trip, remind them that in many places you must be 25 years old to rent a car. Some exceptions will allow younger travelers to rent, but generally that will come with an extra cost. Look at your options for public transportation, such as taxis, trains and buses, because these could be cheaper and safer.
  • Be educated. Many destinations are known to attract high school and college students. Educating your son or daughter on underage drinking and drug use is important. Go through the basic tips: Don't walk alone at night, stay with a group of friends, and most importantly, don't stray off with strangers. Mixing alcohol and a late night is often the biggest concern for parents. Look at the property area beforehand, view reports on safety and security, and contact the local convention and visitors bureau with questions or concerns.
  • Plan. Always have a Plan B. If travelers require medical attention or get into legal trouble for some reason, make sure they know how to reach their parents/guardians, and what to do in the meantime. Food handling and water treatment can be different, so there is a possibility of getting sick. In another country, a U.S. insurance card might be useless. Informed, pre-travel discussions between parents and their children can make all the difference.
  • Be aware. Be aware of the local laws. Some places in Mexico do not allow you to drink at the age of 18, which many people are not aware of. Also be aware of the sanitary or health concerns in that region. There are still cases of swine flu and other diseases circulating.
  • Communicate often. Most kids in high school have a cell phone. Beforehand, parents or their children should research an international calling package with their providers if the children are traveling outside the U.S. Cecil encourages parents to touch base with their travelers frequently, finding out where they are, if they need anything and whom they are with. They also have access to instant communication through a number of channels (Facebook, Twitter, email).

Amanda Cecil can be reached at 317-278-8569 or The School of Physical Education and Tourism Management is at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis. Top

For additional assistance, contact Tracy James at 812-855-0084 or