Sex Ed

Panting, And Moaning, And Screaming, Oh My! Why Noisy Sex Is Better Sex

January 16, 2013 by Justin Lehmiller

When it comes to making noise in the bedroom, some people prefer silence, while others prefer to wake the neighbors. Although the noisy type are more likely to be on the receiving end of a late-night complaint to the police, a growing amount of research suggests that this may be a small price to pay for a more intense and satisfying sex life. Indeed, scientists have found that sexual noises may enhance pleasure in a number of ways.

First, research has demonstrated that among both men and women, people who moan and groan more during sex tend to report greater sexual satisfaction than their vocally reserved counterparts [1]. The reason for this is because moaning is a form of nonverbal communication that helps convey your preferences to your partner. Not only that, but it also reassures your partner of their sexual competence and indicates that their efforts are appreciated. From a psychological standpoint, moaning thus provides positive reinforcement for pleasurable actions, which makes them more likely to occur in the future and likely increases everyone’s satisfaction.

Second, research has found that, at least among heterosexual couples, men find the noises that women make during sex to be a real turn on and, in fact, those sounds may actually facilitate male orgasm [2]. Women seem to know this and use it to their advantage. For instance, in one study, 71 heterosexual women were asked to report on their noise-making habits during sex [3]. Women reported making the most noise (or as the scientists called it, “female copulatory vocalizations”) just before and during the male partner’s orgasm, suggesting that this is a rather deliberate action. Almost two-thirds of women even went so far as to say that the noises they make during sex are intentionally aimed at helping their partner climax.

One limitation to the research on noise and sexual satisfaction is that the people who report making the most noise during sex tend to be the least apprehensive about sexual communication and the most confident in their sexual skills [1]. Thus, while it is likely true that noise improves sex, it is probably also true that people who are better at sex tend to be noisier.

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[1] Babin, E. (in press). An examination of predictors of nonverbal and verbal communication of pleasure during sex and sexual satisfaction. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships.

[2] Levin, R. J., (2006). Vocalised sounds and human sex. Sexual and Relationship Therapy, 21, 99-107.

[3] Brewer, G. & Hendrie, C. A. (2011). Evidence to suggest that copulatory vocalizations in women are not a reflective consequences of orgasm. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 40, 559-564.

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Written by
Dr. Justin Lehmiller
Founder & Owner of Sex and Psychology

Dr. Justin Lehmiller is a social psychologist and Research Fellow at The Kinsey Institute. He runs the Sex and Psychology blog and podcast and is author of the popular book Tell Me What You Want. Dr. Lehmiller is an award-winning educator, and a prolific researcher who has published more than 50 academic works.

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