Fact: Some women and men can have orgasms when they aren’t having sex, or even trying to have an orgasm.
“We know that it happens, but we don’t really know why,” says Debby Herbenick, Ph.D., associate professor at Indiana University and author of The Coregasm Workout (Seal Press, 2015). “People who have non-genital orgasms may be embarrassed to talk about them, but it’s actually completely normal.”
A non-genital orgasm can feel just as good as a genital orgasm.
“There have been studies where people who have non-genital orgasms use adjectives that describe how they feel compared to sexual orgasms,” Herbenick says. “And they’ve found that, while everyone experiences orgasms differently, there are a lot of crossover adjectives between the two.”
So what kinds of orgasms have you had?
Maybe you’ve orgasmed while working out?
A coregasm—which some women say is a less intense version of a genital orgasm—tends to occur during exercises that use the core muscles. Knee raises and leg raises on the captain’s chair at the gym seem to do the trick, Herbenick says. “For men, pull-ups can sometimes be a trigger.”
Perchance you found bliss during yoga?
“Some people will orgasm during pigeon pose or other positions that engage the core,” says Herbenick.
Maybe you meditated to a climax?
Some people report orgasming during meditative processes in yoga when they are not really engaging their cores. To see if you have it in you, go to a yoga class that encourages deep meditation and follow directions closely.
Have you ever read something so beautiful that you exploded?
And it doesn’t have to be Fifty Shades of Grey. “Some people admit to orgasming while reading beautiful prose in a nonfiction book,” Herbenick claims.
Have you orgasmed while eating a specific food?
There is something spine-tinglingly sensual about this grilled cheese, amiright?
Has anxiety pushed you to your peak?
And you thought you had too much on your plate before this happened. “Some men will spontaneously ejaculate if they’re feeling stressed,” says Herbenick. Those men will usually don two pairs of underwear before high-pressure events (like giving a big speech).
Has a random, totally unsexy dream ever left you wondering why?
Herbenick recalls a story of a young man whose first wet dream involved a completely nonsexual gaggle of Smurfs in a garden.
Have you had a bodily come apart while peeing?
Or when you were holding it? It’s the tightening of those core muscles again.
Has a brush to the foot brought you to your knees?
“Some people with sensitive feet to this degree will never wear sandals or walk barefoot because they’re worried that certain textures and surfaces will give them an orgasm,” Herbenick says.
Have you found yourself at the brink of pleasure while breastfeeding?
“If you are aroused while breastfeeding, there’s nothing wrong with you,” Herbenick says. For some people, nipple arousal can be very intense and—in the case of feeling aroused around your child—uncomfortable. But this is actually a fairly common experience!
Have sounds like these ever made your head tingle?
And remember: There’s nothing to be ashamed of.
If you’ve had orgasms from non-sexual circumstances, Dr. Herbenick and her team at Indiana University continue to do research in this area. Feel free to email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.