Chances are, at some point in the past, you've walked into a gym or fitness studio and heard grunts, groans and heavy breathing. But whimpers and moans of pleasure? It's possible if someone is having a coregasm. (That's core plus orgasm.)
Curiosity piqued? Of course it is. Keep reading to learn more.
What Is a Coregasm?
First documented by Alfred Kinsey and his colleagues in their 1953 book, Sexual Behavior in the Human Female, exercise-induced orgasms are, as the name implies, orgasms that happen during exercise.
Nowadays, they're colloquially known as coregasms because "people most often describe the exercises that resulted in an orgasm as demanding abdominal exercises," says Debby Herbenick, PhD, professor at Indiana University School of Public Health and author of The Coregasm Workout: The Revolutionary Method for Better Sex Through Exercise.
Think: hanging leg raises, climbing, chin-ups, weight lifting and yoga. But some folks can experience them after exercises like running, swimming or bicycling.
Can Everybody Have Them?
Whether you think the concept sounds a little unusual or are intrigued by the notion of mixing exercise and pleasure, you're probably wondering: Can I have one?
Most people who have coregasms aren't actively seeking them out. "For most people it's a complete accident," says clinical sexologist Sarah Melancon, PhD, with The Sex Toy Collective.
And while most of the reported incidences of coregasms have occurred in vulva owners, according to Melancon, "anyone who has a pelvic floor can have one, which is to say everyone."
How Do Coregasms Happen, Exactly?
While Herbenick says the exact mechanism of the coregasm isn't known, most pelvic floor therapists and sex educators suspect it has to something to do with the core musculature's role in climax.
Far more than the six-pack ab muscles you ogle on Instagram, your core is comprised of all the muscles in midsection, including your transverse abdominis, rectus abdominis, obliques and pelvic floor muscles.
While the pelvic floor muscles primarily act as a protective sling, holding your bladder and bowels (and uterus, if you have one) in place, they have another important (but little known!) role role: helping you orgasm.
For people with vaginas, "pelvic floor muscle contractions are thought to activate the clitoral network, triggering orgasm," Melancon says. For individuals with penises, pelvic floor contractions are thought to stimulate the prostate, a nerve-dense region in the body that, when stimulated, can lead to climax (either with or without ejaculation).
The hypothesis is that when these muscles are activated during exercise (as opposed to through sexual stimulation) a specific type of orgasm takes place: the coregasm.
What Does a Coregasm Feel Like?
For most vulva owners, Herbenick says, the sensation generally feels similar to the sensation of an orgasm via vaginal penetration.
And for people with penises, most describe the exercise-induced orgasms as feeling more like orgasms from prostate-stimulation — which are thought to be more intense and longer-lasting than penile orgasms, Herbenick says.
That said, it really depends on the person. "Like any other kind of orgasm, what it feels like and how intense it is, depends on the person having it," says Colorado-based certified sex therapist Indigo Stray Conger with Choosing Therapy, a mental and behavioral health startup.
To be clear: If you've ever had one, you'll know it. Coregasms are not subtle. As Herbenick says, "You'll know!"
Are There Any Benefits to Having a Coregasm?
Learning how to have a coregasm isn't about getting off at the gym. For starters, intentionally making yourself have any kind of orgasm at the gym brings up questions of consent. Anytime someone can hear, see or smell you having sex, they become part of that sexual scene and their consent is required. And worth mentioning: In the United States, having public sex is illegal.
Beyond that, most people with penises ejaculate when they have a coregasm. Talk about a mid-workout distraction. "Often, these folks try to learn how to control these orgasms so that they don't have to deal with ejaculation during exercise," Herbenick says.
So if the point isn't to have a coregasm in the middle of a CrossFit WOD, ab session or run — and in fact, doing so is unfavorable to the people having them — what is the point, exactly? "The point is that by understanding how to have a coregasm, you can enhance your sex live at home," Herbenick says.
She explains: "Some people learn that there are ways that they can tense or brace their core muscles in ways that enhance their orgasm during partnered sex or masturbation."
The Bottom Line
Ultimately, the coregasm is just another way to tune into your body and find joy in exercise. As Melancon says, one of the main benefits of exercise — whether you're having coregasms or not — is to find pleasure in your body and feel good. "So don't feel bad if you can't have a coregasm, the the fact that you're exercising is cause for celebration enough."