Having an orgasm is a powerful, full-body experience. Your muscles contract, your breath quickens, and you might even break a sweat.
Which is why you may have wondered at one point or another: How many calories does an orgasm burn? Your heart's pumping like you're running a marathon and you're clenching your core like you're busting out an ab workout, so it's got to be something, right?
Determined to figure it out, I put on my Sherlock Holmes cap and reached out to Dr. Uchenna Ossai, a pelvic health physical therapist and sex educator for LifeStyles Condoms. Here's what she had to say.
How many calories does an orgasm burn?
To answer my question, Ossai pointed to a 2013 study — we've written about it before — on the number of calories men and women burn during a full sex session. Published in the journal PLOS ONE, it found that the average male burns around 4 calories a minute, and the average female burns around 3.
"With the average sexytime session lasting about 6 minutes, that only allows for 18 to 24 calories," Ossai reasoned. "So if we are looking at a measure of heart rate, and your orgasms are lasting anywhere from 10 to 60 seconds, you can expect a maximum calorie burn of 4 calories [during an orgasm]."
Even if you've mastered the art of having multiple orgasms, you're still not exactly on your way to working off that cheat meal. Sorry, pal.
But wait! There's good news. Even if orgasms don't burn many calories, they still have plenty of health benefits. They can relieve pain, help you sleep, improve your cognitive function, and boost your mood.
"Orgasms are stellar tools in the never-ending battle with stress and anxiety," Ossai said.
And here's something you probably didn't know: "Even though ejaculation is not necessary for orgasms, research does indicate that regular orgasms and ejaculation can be a protective factor against prostate cancer," she added. (It's true: Check out these studies from 2004 and 2006.)
The takeaway? Orgasms are great — just not in the calorie-burning department. That's fine, because sex isn't about working out, anyway. That's what the glorious post-sex gym session is for.
This article originally appeared on Men's Health US.