I had just returned home after a great Pilates class and was bending down to load some dishes in the dishwasher when it happened. I felt my abdominal and thigh muscles flex, contract, quiver and then ... boom! It was a coregasm! But how did it happen? Why did it happen? And most importantly, how could I make it happen again?
I had definitely heard about exercise-induced orgasms (what I'm calling "coregasms") before in my life. But I always thought the coregasm was an urban myth, like a unicorn — the stuff of fairytales and legend. But since my own core-na-graphic experience in the kitchen, I've learned a few things about this very real phenomenon.
Believe it or not, exercise-induced-orgasm (EIO) or exercise-induced sexual pleasure (EISP) has actually been recognized in scientific literature for more than sixty years. In 1953, Alfred Kinsey wrote in Sexual Behavior in the Human Female that 5% of the women he studied claimed to experience orgasm during exercise, rather than exclusively during sexual activity. However, the mechanism of how exactly the coregasm works is not yet totally understood.
In 2011, researchers from Indiana University surveyed 530 women online. 246 of these participants reported experiencing EISP and 124 reported experiencing an EIO from such activities as cycling, rope climbing, yoga, weight lifting, and running. Leg pullups on a contraption sexily called "The Captain's Chair" were the most commonly reported exercises to induce a coregasm. This contraption is basically a "chair" with no seat, in which you hold onto armrests while pressing your torso against the back of the chair, allowing you to engage your abdominal muscles while you either lift your knees to your chest or keep your legs straight and raise them to a 90-degree angle.
As the name suggests, the coregasm is most directly related to contractions of the lower abdominal muscles. Surprisingly, though, coregasms don't necessarily occur in conjunction with sexual thoughts or activity. Many women report that coregasms only take place for them after several reps or sets, or when their abdominal muscles are already fatigued (and specify that they are not having sexy thoughts at the time).
Having strong pelvic floor muscles seems to be key to the coregasm (another reason to keep doing those kegels!) as the pelvic floor muscles and abdominal muscles are both attached to the pelvis. And the pelvis is where all the magic happens: orgasm involves contraction of the pelvic floor.
In especially sensitive individuals, simply squeezing the lower abs during a rigorous workout is enough to trigger a coregasm. Note that the feeling of a coregasm is definitely different from a pulsating sensation in the clitoris; rather it's a sensation that the pelvis area is "orgasming." And it is awesome.
A clitoral orgasm has a distinct build, climax, and then clear descent — similar to a penile orgasm. But a coregasm is more like an "expanded orgasm" — a term coined by Patricia Taylor in 1995 in her book Expanded Orgasm based on her Ph.D. research on intense sexual experiences. In this type of orgasm, the pleasure contractions are felt in the abdomen, inner thighs and can extend to other parts of the body as well. Taylor describes women reaching altered states of consciousness, experiencing emotional release, and having profound spiritual experiences from these orgasms. Another benefit of the coregasm is that it can last for a long time, some reporting that it keeps going for hours.
Whether or not your core workout leads to the holy grail of coregasm, there are still plenty of benefits to working your abs. Strong abdominal muscles support the spine, protecting against injury and improving posture. Especially after childbirth, tightening the muscles of the pelvic floor supports the bladder and uterus. And a flatter tummy isn't a bad side effect.
Exercise stimulates brain chemicals such as serotonin, in addition to the release of endorphins, all of which are also associated with arousal. Physical activity also causes dilation of the blood vessels, creating the right physical conditions for orgasm.
Similar to good old-fashioned orgasms, coregasms rely on a certain level of mental and emotional presence. If I'm worrying about my clients while burning calories on the elliptical machine, I'm not in a very welcoming state for bliss. But if I'm on the elliptical or yoga mat, listening to great music, focusing on how good and strong my body feels, enjoying the sensation of sweat running down my back, and squeezing my lower abs and thighs, I can sometimes see the unicorn.
And even if a coregasm doesn't happen during the time-frame of your workout, strengthening the pelvic floor muscles enhances orgasms whenever they do happen, even if you keep them reserved for the bedroom. So either way, there's an added benefit to working the core.
Well then, I'm off to Pilates class now!