Why Sex Sounds — Think “Ohhhh!” — Actually Make Sex Better

Photographed by Natalia Mantini.
Whether from porn, an R-rated movie, or some real-life experience, we all know what moaning during sex sounds like. But why is that sound such a turn-on? We asked the experts to find out.
LELO Sexpert and NYU professor of Human Sexuality, Dr. Zhana Vrangalova, says that moaning during sex lets our partners know we’re enjoying ourselves — which makes everyone feel good, “both because we want them to be happy, and because we want to know WE are doing something right to make them happy.”
Moaning also has a practical use: it can help us guide our partners towards what we want them to do more of... or less of. An "ohhh!" can help us indicate we like “a particular position, angle, speed, or depth," Dr. Vrangalova says. "In this way, you can think of moaning as a great positive reinforcement tool for teaching our partner what we like."
However, moaning isn't always a sign that sex is going well — a recent study on sex moaning (or, as researchers called it, “copulatory vocalizations”) found that some straight women reported faking a moan to stroke their partners’ egos, make their partners orgasm more quickly, or because they were bored. On the other hand, another study found that people of all genders who moan during sex are having better sex. So if you feel good, go ahead and vocalize it.
But what, exactly, makes a moan sexy? Happiness consultant and emotional companion Gabi Gee says to do what feels natural. “If your partner stimulates somewhere and you feel your throat tighten, don't be shy about letting it out,” she says. “Trying to force moans may confuse your partner even if you aren't familiar with each other, but if you want to let them know they're doing a good job, even quiet noises and gasps can add to the mood.”
Jinx Lierre, sex worker and real-life love witch, says, “The key to a truly great moan is not caring about how you sound, which is likely to take you out of the moment. I love hearing moans paired with whimpers, grunts, whines, curses, begging, crying out to higher powers... whatever feels right in the moment!”
She adds that if you feel self-conscious about your moans, go ahead and practice! “Try moaning on your exhales (you're remembering to breathe, right?), starting with a classic ‘oh’ sound and letting your voice go higher or lower in response to exciting sensations. Want a pro OHHHHH? Try recording a voice memo of yourself playing solo and listen back for the parts that feel the most sensual."

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