I had asked on Facebook if anyone had any questions about sex and/or marriage since I hadn’t gotten an anonymous question in a couple of weeks.
Then one of my regular readers and participator sent me this question (among others):
Why the shakes and spasms after orgasm?
That sounded like it might have a fun and interesting physiological cause, so I thought I’d try to answer it today. Why do some people shake post-orgasm, whether it be legs, arms, or their whole body and is it something to worry about?
Many women find that they shake, or have spasms post-orgasm. For some, it’s slight, for others it’s almost a flailing of limbs, and their husband better watch out. I’m afraid I can’t find any stats to say how many have experienced this, but judging by the number of people asking, I don’t think it’s that rare. There seem to be a lot of women whose legs shake after sex.
Now, I haven’t seen any studies on this, but as far as I can tell, there seem to be four prevailing theories on why this happens.
Trembling is a sign of a highly increases heart rate
The first theory is that people often tremble when their heart rate increases radically. This is most well known when someone is scared. When we’re scared our hearts start pumping more blood to help us get more energy to our limbs, to run away or to fight, to our senses, so we can see better, hear better. Basically, it’s a response designed to help us avoid danger.
Now, during sex, we aren’t in danger (hopefully), but we do tend to have an elevated heart rate. A fear response is very similar to arousal in a lot of ways. Some people’s heart rates increase more than others, and it seems that for some women, it raises so high, it gives the same shaking, thanks to all the natural chemicals being pumped into our bloodstream along with the increased heart rate.
So, one way to test this theory would be to check your heart rate (when you regain control of your limbs), before it returns to normal. If it’s really high, that might be related.
Legs shaking after sex might be caused by spasming muscles due to prolonged tension
Many women find that they need to clench muscles in order to have an orgasm. This is what leads to grasping bed sheets, raking fingernails, pulling hair, grabbing their own breasts, etc… One common muscle to contract is the thigh muscles. For one it’s near the genitals, and so for some women, they just tense up the entire area. Yes, the thigh muscles happen to be the most noticeable, but in the process, they may also be contracting their pelvic floor muscles, and butt muscles, which can lead to increased blood flow, which leads to increased sensation.
And it’s not necessarily voluntary. In fact, they can be so tense that they should cause pain, except that you are being fed so many natural pain relief hormones that you don’t notice it.
Then, when you do orgasm, your finally free to let go of the muscle tension, and your legs have been under such high tension for so long, that they start to shake simply from the workout.
Want to check this theory? Check to see if your thigh muscles are contracted during sex. If they’re hard as a rock, that’s probably what’s going on and explains why your legs shake after sex.
If you have shaky legs after sex – that is, when you try to walk, you’re a bit wobbly, this might also point to your muscles being overworked during orgasm and so after sex, when the muscles stop contracting, then they feel like you just did leg-day at the gym.
Your orgasm might be extending into other parts of your body
Orgasms included the rapid contraction and release of muscles in and around your genitals. The larger the orgasm, often the stronger these contractions. Now, for some, it might be that these involuntary rapid contract and release cycles are extending beyond just the muscles surrounding your genitals. For some women, their legs are involved, for others their abs.
An interesting correlation of this is that some women can also have orgasms by working out their ab muscles (leg-lifts and such). These are known sometimes as “core-gasms”.
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If your legs shake after sex, your brain might be overloaded and misfiring
Lastly, it could simply be that your nervous system is just overwhelmed with all the pleasure signals and it doesn’t know what to do with itself. Pleasure and pain use the same mechanisms to tell the brain that something is going on. It’s the same sensors picking up the feeling, and the same system transmitting those feelings.
When we feel in pain, our bodies tend to quickly try to get away from whatever is hurting us, like if you touch a hot pan, your arm jerks your hand away before you can even really process that’s happening. Actually, what happens is that the high level of input from the pain hits your spinal cord and actually short-circuits and jumps to the return path, sending a muscle-contract response before the signal even hits your brain. You literally move before you know why. In a sense, it’s pre-cognition.
So, it’s possible that your body is receiving such strong pleasure signals, that it’s short-circuiting your nervous system. Your body just starts flailing body parts in an effort to resolve the situation without even involving your brain.
So, there you go. Four reasons why you might shake after you have an orgasm. If you’ve heard of others, let us know in the comments below.
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