Until I watched porn, the idea of people making noise in bed was completely foreign to me. It had never occurred to me to make noise when I masturbated. But then, when I started having sex with partners, I felt all this pressure to be louder than I was. I began to resent the expectation that people, especially women, should be loud in bed. It seemed like just another way women were taught to perform for their partners during sex rather that think about their own pleasure.
Then, I went to one of Betty Dodson's Bodysex masturbation workshops, where Dodson's assistant Carlin Ross told me that orgasms live on the breath. She suggested I try making noise when I masturbated with the rest of the group. I was skeptical — I'd tried making noise with partners before, and all it did was take me out of the moment — but I took her advice and gave a few yells during my orgasm. Something about that orgasm felt different. Like I had fully experienced it rather than observing it. Like I had really felt it, not just physically but emotionally.
I've since been trying to recreate this type of sex noise that actually feels good, but I haven't been able to figure out what it was about it. Normally, I have to think about what kind of noise to make, and that thought process alone detracts from the sensations.
I'm not alone in making sex noises due to pressure rather than pleasure. "Research suggests that the sounds we make during sex may not be commensurate with sexual pleasure," Astroglide's resident sexologist Dr. Jess O'Reilly tells Bustle. "Women, for example, make noises to stroke their partners' egos, heighten their partners' pleasure, and for expediency (i.e. to get it over with). The differences in sex sounds between hearing and Deaf people suggest that the sounds hearing people make may be culturally acquired (learned)."
However, as I learned in that workshop, there's a benefit to making noise for you, not just your partner. Here's how to make noises in bed in that actually feel good to you and don't feel like a show you're putting on for someone else, according to sex experts.
1Try Vocalizing Alone
When you're masturbating, any pressure you might feel to sound sexy is off. "Play around with different levels of moans and breath so when you have sex with your partner, it’ll be a lot easier to get lost in the sensations," Dr. Emily Morse, host of the Sex With Emily podcast, tells Bustle. "Suck in your breath if something is extra stimulating. Try a little moan when something feels especially wonderful. Eventually, you’ll find a noise that feels more natural for you to make. The biggest hurdle is going from silent to sound — but after you’ve crossed that bridge, it’s a lot easier to play around!"
2Exaggerate What's Already There
It can be hard to know where to start when no noise comes naturally. If this is your situation, O'Reilly suggests amplifying whatever little noises you're already making, even if it's just breathing. These can be the building blocks for louder noises. "Try exaggerating your sounds a little as your arousal heightens," she says. "Some people find that this helps to bring on orgasm."
3Don't Try To Imitate Anyone Else
Try out whatever noises come to you, but don't take your inspiration from porn. "The key to making sounds in the bedroom is all about finding your own sex voice, and steer clear of trying to mimic something you’ve seen in a movie or in porn," says Morse. "Screaming like a porn star when you aren’t used to making any noise at all is never going to feel genuine for you and might even deter you from trying to make sounds at all."
4Communicate How You're Feeling
The best way to make sure your noises don't take away from your sensations is to use them to communicate what you're feeling. "Start by making sounds that echo physical sensations you’re having," says Morse. "Try to think of it as amplifying the moment, rather than distracting from the moment." You might even use words to tell your partner how much you're enjoying what they're doing. But if you choose to use moans or groans instead, this might help you find your authentic sex voice, says Morse.
5Turn It Up When You Orgasm
"There are also a lot of people who feel that by vocalizing their sensations, they’re able to amplify the sensation itself," says Morse. "Letting out a noise when you approach orgasm can deepen the sensations of the impending orgasm — so definitely don’t hold back." You won't have much self-control at this point anyway, so it's a good time to figure out what kind of noise comes naturally.
6Put On Music
If you feel self-conscious about what sounds might come out, O'Reilly suggests putting on music so that you don't hear them. Then, you can just focus on how they make you feel. "You might also play porn in the background so that their sounds are louder than your own — you can create a symphony of erotic sounds," she says.
After all this, noises still might not come to you. That's OK. Noises don't come naturally to us in everyday conversation either, but we still communicate using words. You can do the same thing during sex. "You don’t have to talk dirty, but try uttering simple one or two syllable words during sex, e.g. 'Yes,' 'More,' 'Ugh,'" says O'Reilly.
8Compliment Your Partner's Noises
You might feel more comfortable making noise if your partner is doing the same thing. Plus, having a loud, enthusiastic partner can be lots of fun. "If you’re looking for your partner to make some more noise in bed, let them know how much you love when they do," says Morse. "Say, 'hey — I really love when I can hear your breath pick up during sex' or 'you know what gets me going? When you let out a little moan. It lets me know that I’m doing something right.' Fawn over their small sounds, and they’re likely to get bigger over time."
"Sounds not only have the ability to make you feel more pleasure and really indulge in the moment, but they let your partner know that you’re feeling great and that they’re doing something right," Morse says. "You’ll be pleasantly surprised at how much more satisfying sex can be when you try making a little noise. We all want to know that our partner is into it, and letting out some verbal cues will do just the trick."