Earlier this week, I wrote about a new research study that I published with my colleague Dr. Dennis Fortenberry about exercise-induced orgasms (EIO) and exercise-induced sexual pleasure (EISP)—read more about our study in this previous post.
In that post, I had offered to answer questions here about EIO/EISP and invited you to email your questions to me at DrDebby@MySexProfessor.com. You took me up on the offer and I'm keeping my promise. Below are your questions and my responses. [Please feel free to keep sending your questions—as well as your stories! A number of you have written to me with stories about your own experiences with EIO/EISP.]
1. Do men experience EIO?
A number of you asked this and the answer is yes! Our initial study involved women but we are working on a study that will involve asking men about their experiences with exercise-induced orgasm and/or sexual pleasure. A number of men have been emailing me about their experiences and I read every single email, so please feel free to keep sending them! The more we learn, the better scientific research we can develop together.
2. If men experience it, do you think it's more or less common than for women?
We don't know but my initial guess is that it appears to be less common among men than women.
3. Do you think women can train themselves to have an EIO or EISP?
Again, we don't know. However, I suspect that many women can. I don't know if only a small proportion (say, 5% of women who try) could do so or if would be true for a larger proportion of women but it's something we're looking into.
4. For a woman who experiences them, is it something that grows in intensity or frequency the more they exercise? Or if they focus on the feeling?
We didn't ask this in our survey but it's an interesting question. A number of women wrote detailed information to us about their experiences. It seems that EIO/EISP doesn't typically happen as soon as women start exercising and that focusing on the feeling may enhance their experience, as might spending some time doing specific exercises (for example, doing a number of crunches).
5. The article says that you weren't trying to identify how common these are in society for this study but is that currently being studied too?
Many of you asked this—essentially, "how common is this?" We don't know how common it is but yes, we are looking into that for future research as well.
6. What do you think the benefits are of this research?
I think there are a number of benefits, potentially. Many women and men have written to me in the past 48 hours, since the study hit news outlets internationally, and have said that reading about our research has helped them to realize that they aren't alone in their experience and aren't "weird." That makes me feel good and I see it as a benefit to this type of research. I think there's a potential benefit to science in that this type of research may help some scientists better understand body processes related to orgasm. We also may be able to better identify ways to help women enhance their sexual lives—and yes, men too as we'll get into that line of research.
7. What do you hope happens from your research?
Well certainly the above (see #6)! But let me also add something about what I hope *does not* happen. I hope that women don't feel pressured to have EIO/EISP. We're all built a little differently and just as some women experience orgasm easily from oral sex and other women do not, it's probably the same with exercise. I hope that it doesn't become sensationalized. I also hope that people don't make other people feel uncomfortable at the gym or while working out. We all deserve to have a safe space to exercise and explore the physicalities of our bodies. I love going to the gym and working out and would never want it to become a place where people make each other feel uncomfortable.
8. Where can I learn more about this?
You can read our research article published in Sexual and Relationship Therapy. You can also read more about exercise induced orgasms/sexual pleasure—and many, many other sex topics—in my newest book, Sex Made Easy: Your Awkward Questions Answered for Better, Smarter, Amazing Sex.
UPDATE: Since this study, we've since conducted several additional studies about exercise-induced orgasm and arousal. You can read more about these in my forthcoming book, The Coregasm Workout, which is devoted to what we do (and don't yet) understand about exercise arousal and exercise orgasms.
Debby Herbenick, PhD, MPH is a research scientist at Indiana University, a sexual health educator at The Kinsey Institute, and author of Because It Feels Good: A Woman's Guide to Sexual Pleasure and Satisfaction, Read My Lips: A Complete Guide to the Vagina and Vulva, The I Love You More Book, The Good in Bed Guide to Anal Pleasuring, Great in Bed and Sex Made Easy. Follow her on Twitter @mysexprofessor