Skip to content

Can You Be Too Loud In Bed?

Kelly Gonsalves
March 14, 2019
Kelly Gonsalves
Contributing Sex & Relationships Editor
By Kelly Gonsalves
Contributing Sex & Relationships Editor
Kelly Gonsalves is a sex educator, relationship coach, and journalist. She received her journalism degree from Northwestern University, and her writings on sex, relationships, identity, and wellness have appeared at The Cut, Vice, Teen Vogue, Cosmopolitan, and elsewhere.
March 14, 2019

People have very different preferences when it comes to sex. For example, some people like sex to be romantic, slow, and gentle, whereas others like sex to be much more active and aggressive. There's not really a "right" way to do things in bed other than making sure you're using safe sex practices and ensuring there's consent from all involved parties. And yet, according to a new survey, two in five women feel pretty self-conscious about one particular aspect of their behavior in bed: the sounds they make.

Cosmopolitan asked the 2,000 adults polled in SKYN Condoms' newly released 2019 Intimacy Survey about the noises they made during sex. The report found 41 percent of women thought they were "too loud" during sex, as did 27 percent of men.

Are they right? Is there such a thing as being too loud during sex?

Why you should make some noise.

The SKYN survey found 57 percent of people actually felt more confident when their partner was vocalizing their pleasure, and 42 percent felt more confident in bed when they themselves were the ones making noise.

Clinical sexologist and sex therapist Cyndi Darnell tells mbg that she more regularly encounters couples where the lack of noise is a problem, with one partner wishing the other would make more sounds during sex. "The complaint is they are stiff and lifeless and don't move and don't make any sound," she says. "The silence means it's hard to read what their partner is experiencing, and while it needn't be a porno soundtrack, a little aural feedback is a great thing!"

Indeed, sounds during sex are a way to communicate that you're enjoying what you're feeling and to signal to your partner that you want more of that. Moreover, grunting is usually a sign of physical exertion and happens somewhat naturally as a result of movement during sex, so if you're not making any noise at all, you might be unknowingly holding your breath—which sex therapist Ian Kerner, Ph.D., says can actually make it harder to relax and get aroused.

In other words, a little noise is a great thing. "Simply adding in gentle sighs and soft moans is plenty. It's also helpful to remember communication during sex is the cornerstone of consent. So...frankly, sound is crucial," Darnell says. "From a tantric perspective, sexual energy moves on sound, breath, and movement, so sound is essential to better and more fulfilling sex."

In another survey of over 5,000 people, 91 percent of men and 78 percent of women found moaning to be the hottest noise of all during sex, followed by dirty talk. The least popular? Silence. Just 8 percent of men and 13 percent of women felt excited by a quiet romp.

One caveat: Don't fake it.

A 2010 study1 published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior found that women actually don't tend to make noise to signal their own pleasure. Rather, 66 percent said they were moaning to speed up their partner's orgasm, and 87 percent said they were doing it just to help their partner's self-esteem. In total, 80 percent of women made these types of "fake" pleasure noises during about 50 percent of a given sexual encounter.

That's no good.

"We fake it because of our misguided belief that we are sexual performers who have sex for our partner's benefit rather than ours," certified life and relationship coach Bez Stone writes at mbg. "It encourages your partner to keep touching in ways that don't produce genuine pleasure. This leaves him in the dark, which doesn't give either of you what you want."

Making noise during sex can definitely be a turn-on, adding fuel to both your and your partner's fire. But it's important that you're not moaning just because you think that's what you "should" do to be a good sex partner. Sounds are a way to communicate, so make sure you're communicating accurate information. If it's not really getting you there, convey that to your partner instead of covering it up with a howl. If you do like what you feel? Howl away!

There is no normal.

Is there such a thing as being too loud during sex? Not at all, Darnell confirms. Of course, people will have different personal preferences about how much sound and what kinds of sounds they enjoy in bed, so if you're feeling self-conscious or just curious about whether you and your partner are on the same page about it, just talk to them.

Kelly Gonsalves author page.
Kelly Gonsalves
Contributing Sex & Relationships Editor

Kelly Gonsalves is a multi-certified sex educator and relationship coach helping people figure out how to create dating and sex lives that actually feel good — more open, more optimistic, and more pleasurable. In addition to working with individuals in her private practice, Kelly serves as the Sex & Relationships Editor at mindbodygreen. She has a degree in journalism from Northwestern University, and she’s been trained and certified by leading sex and relationship institutions such as The Gottman Institute and Everyone Deserves Sex Ed, among others. Her work has been featured at The Cut, Vice, Teen Vogue, Cosmopolitan, and elsewhere.

With her warm, playful approach to coaching and facilitation, Kelly creates refreshingly candid spaces for processing and healing challenges around dating, sexuality, identity, body image, and relationships. She’s particularly enthusiastic about helping softhearted women get re-energized around the dating experience and find joy in the process of connecting with others. She believes relationships should be easy—and that, with room for self-reflection and the right toolkit, they can be.

You can stay in the loop about her latest programs, gatherings, and other projects through her newsletter: