Spontaneous orgasms occur without any sexual sensory stimulation.
They can present as a short, solitary O or result in a continuous stream of separate orgasms that goes on and on.
Although they may seem to come out of nowhere, researchers have identified a few underlying factors that can trigger this bodily response.
Read on to learn more about why they happen, when to see a doctor, and more.
While some people who experience the occasional spontaneous orgasm may find them pleasurable, for others they’re completely unwanted and a source of distress.
In many cases, the sensations come at inopportune or inappropriate times. This can severely impair a person’s ability to sleep or complete everyday tasks.
Some people have also reported that having a spontaneous orgasm causes physical pain and prevents them from enjoying sex with a partner.
Exact numbers have been hard to pin down due to the nature of the issue.
Spontaneous orgasms are a source of embarrassment for some. This may make it more difficult to find willing study participants.
The exact cause isn’t always clear, but researchers have identified a few underlying factors that may trigger this bodily response.
Persistent genital arousal disorder (PGAD)
People with PGAD experience ongoing genital arousal that isn’t associated with sexual feelings or activity.
It causes the same sensations you’d experience when you’re turned on, but without the actual desire to have sex.
In addition to spontaneous orgasm, side effects may include:
- increased blood flow to the genitals
- genital throbbing, pressure, or tingling
- an erection or swollen vulva
These feelings can last anywhere from a few hours to a few days and often cause distress.
Although having an orgasm may offer temporary relief, the overall sensation usually returns shortly after.
The exact cause of PGAD isn’t known, but some theorize that it results from a pinched pudendal nerve. This nerve provides most of the sensation to the external genitals.
Unconscious orgasms are also known as sleep or nocturnal orgasms.
They may also be referred to as wet dreams, but this isn’t always accurate.
You can have a nocturnal orgasm without ejaculation, whereas a wet dream only occurs if you experience involuntary genital secretions while sleeping.
During REM sleep, blood flow to the genitals increases, just as it would with conscious arousal.
This can result in an erection or swollen vulva, which can lead to orgasm, with or without ejaculation or vaginal lubrication.
Except in the case of PGAD, researchers know far less about spontaneous orgasms that occur while you’re awake.
The following triggers stem from anecdotal reports that have later undergone clinical study. More research is needed to truly understand the scope of these triggers, as well as identify other potential causes.
There have been a few case reports of spontaneous orgasms caused by certain medications, including rasagiline, a drug commonly prescribed for Parkinson’s disease.
According to this 2014 case report, a woman with early-onset Parkinson’s began experiencing hyperarousal a week after starting the drug. She went on to experience three to five spontaneous orgasms per day.
But it isn’t just prescription drugs that have caused this unusual side effect.
According to a 2017 case study, a 40-year old woman experienced persistent spontaneous orgasms after using cannabis and engaging in five hours of “intense pounding sexual activity.”
Her symptoms initially appeared to be caused by restless genital syndrome (ReGS), a rare condition sometimes associated with PGAD.
In the end, her symptoms didn’t meet all of the criteria for a ReGS diagnosis. They concluded that her orgasms were caused by the cannabis and prolonged sexual activity.
Exercise-induced orgasms, or “coregasms” if you want to be cute, have been the subject of internet fodder for years.
But in 2012, a survey by researchers at Indiana University confirmed that some women do experience orgasms through exercise.
The following exercises were most associated with spontaneous orgasm:
- abdominal exercises
- biking or cycling
- climbing ropes or poles
As for gym equipment, the captain’s chair was most often associated with orgasms and feelings of sexual pleasure.
It’s the one with the padded arms and back support that allows your legs to hang free so you can lift your knees up to your chest — in case you were wondering.
There’s also evidence that some people experience orgasm during vaginal childbirth. The phenom coined “birthgasm” has led to
Stopping spontaneous orgasms really comes down to what’s causing them.
You may be able to avoid triggers if your orgasms are brought on by certain activities, such as cycling or weightlifting.
If you have PGAD, activities that involve vibration and pressure on the pudendal nerve may also trigger symptoms.
For some, stress and anxiety may be a factor. Switching up your stress-management routine or trying new relaxation techniques may help.
Although yoga and meditation can certainly take the edge off, you may find it easier to start with one of the following:
- breathing exercises
- taking a walk around the block
- spending time with a friend
- listening to music
Sleep orgasms are considered par for the course, so there’s no need to seek medical attention unless they’re interfering with your ability to sleep or otherwise causing distress.
But if they’re occurring while you’re awake, you may find it helpful to record the following in a journal or on your phone:
- how you felt before it happened
- what you were doing before it happened
- any other unusual physical symptoms
- any recent over-the-counter or prescription medications
- any recent substance use
If you notice that you’re experiencing other unexpected or uncomfortable symptoms, make an appointment with a doctor or other provider.
They can use the information you recorded to help assess your symptoms and make a diagnosis.
You should also schedule an appointment if you suspect that your symptoms are tied to a prescription medication or other drug.
After reviewing your symptoms and overall medical history, your provider may recommend one or more of the following:
- a physical exam
- a pelvic exam
- neurological testing
- tests to measure blood flow to your genitals
If your doctor suspects that an underlying mental health condition is contributing to your symptoms, they may also refer you to a mental health specialist for additional evaluation.
Symptom management will ultimately depend on what these diagnostic tools reveal.
For example, your provider may recommend:
- behavioral therapy or sex therapy
- discontinuing the use of any associated medications or other drugs
- applying a topical numbing or desensitizing agent to the genitals
- pudendal nerve block injections
- surgery to repair a nerve
If you only experience the occasional spontaneous orgasm, you may not think it’s a big deal.
But over time, this condition can take a toll on your emotional and physical health.
You may experience:
- poor sleep
- trouble concentrating
- difficulty urinating
- low sex drive
- genital and pelvic pain
Talking openly about sexual health isn’t always easy, especially when you’re dealing with what may feel like an unusual issue.
But reaching out for help is the first step in figuring out what’s causing your symptoms and getting the care you need.
A number of treatments are available to help manage your symptoms and treat PGAD or address other underlying causes.
It may take time to find the right therapies, so try not to become discouraged if you aren’t seeing any improvement right away.
Keeping your doctor up-to-date with what is and isn’t working will allow them to make any necessary changes and further refine your individual care plan.