Most men have watched porn. The number might surprise you: up to 98 percent at least once, according to a 2006 Danish study that looked at 18- to 30-year-old men and women. While there's no shame in watching adult entertainment, it's easy to forget that what you're seeing is often staged, scripted and an unrealistic performance of exaggerated pleasure.
So when men who watch porn are having intercourse, that disconnect might make them compare situations and wonder, "Why isn't my girlfriend sounding like they do in the videos?"
I'm sorry to report that, in the real world, many women don't moan during sex. And if they do, it's not the full-throated yowl of uncontrolled rapture you're comparing it to. But this doesn't mean you're doing something wrong.
Here, sex coaches and sex experts explore the reasons your partner is quiet during sex and what you can do to perhaps find a compromise.
She's concerned about privacy
The reality is most people don't have the luxury of moaning like porn stars during sex. From our first experience masturbating to our first time having sex in someone's parents' house, being loud is rarely an option.
"We train ourselves early on to be quiet when experiencing sexual pleasure," said Suzannah Weiss, a certified sexologist, sex educator and sex coach in Los Angeles. "Moaning is often an intentional, learned behavior rather than a natural response."
Tip #1. Your girlfriend might not moan because she's not used to it. Her mind is still in the protective "quiet mode" when experiencing sexual pleasure.
She shows pleasure in other ways
Women show pleasure in many ways, from curling their toes to arching their back to making the "O-face." She likely has a myriad of ways to show pleasure that you might not be noticing that don't make for great porn, which is why you might not know about them. Curling toes, barring certain fetishes, are not high on the director's list.
"Every person's sexual response is different, and there is no such thing as a 'normal' response that we should all be trying to get to," said Leah Carey, a sex and intimacy coach in Oregon and host of the podcast "Good Girls Talk About Sex." “They may be a more tactile person who shows their enjoyment through movement rather than sounds.”
Tip #2. If you want to feel more confident right away, try to notice other signals that your partner is enjoying sex. Pay more attention to her.
She feels self-conscious
It's possible some women don't moan because they've been shamed about their noises in the past.
"They may have a history of abuse that has interrupted their ability to feel safe making sounds," Carey said, adding there may also have been a negative reaction to love-making noises in the past and self-consciousness has set in.
"Moaning during sex needs some level of inhibition, and letting go completely requires being vulnerable," said Isabelle Uren, a Denmark-based certified sex expert, writer and website manager for Bedbible.com. "Your partner might feel shy about making noise if they're unsure how you will respond."
Tip #3. If it's a confidence issue, reassure your partner that you'd love to hear her moan, and then respond positively when she tries.
She finds it distracting
Moaning can feel performative to some women, which can be distracting in the heat of passion.
“If moaning doesn't come naturally, actively trying to moan for a partner could take the person out of the moment and distract them, leading to reduced pleasure," Uren said.
Tip #4. Be careful what you wish for. A small 2010 study on “copulatory vocalization" found that 66 percent of female participants moaned to make their partners ejaculate faster, while others moaned to boost their partner's confidence. So moaning in of itself might not indicate pleasure, and a lack of moaning may mean that everything's going great.
She doesn't feel turned on
In the worst-case scenario, your partner might not be moaning because she's not into what's happening between you. Perhaps you're not touching her in the right places, the sex has become too routine or there's not enough foreplay.
"Your partner might not be moaning because they're not getting the right kind of stimulation from you or themselves," Uren said. "In which case, it's important to discover what really gets them going and have them direct you in how to do it for them."
Tip #5. It may be uncomfortable but the only way to fix this is to dive into an open-minded, non-accusatory conversation and simply ask questions—and then listen.
How to approach the topic
Asking your girlfriend why she's not moaning can sound like a critique, and no one wants to feel judged about their sexual abilities. Handle the situation delicately to avoid lasting damage to her self-esteem and your relationship. But there is something you might want to try first.
“Before men get worried that their female partners aren't vocalizing, they should ask themselves if they're vocalizing," Weiss said. "Sometimes just moaning yourself is enough to encourage your partner to do so because it will help them lose their inhibitions.”
Making noise during sex can be intimidating if sex is usually quiet for you, but someone has to take the first step. If you're not moaning yourself, try it. At worst, it'll give you new insight into why your partner isn't moaning, and at best, maybe your partner will follow suit.
It's time to talk
You're probably wondering when I'm going to say the phrase "communication is key." I know, I hate that one, too, but if modeling the behavior of moaning doesn't work, it's time to bring it up with your actual words. You can choose to talk about it in the moment or outside the bedroom. Your choice.
Weiss had some recommendations for when you're in the moment:
- “Do you like that?”
- “Does that feel good?”
- “Do you like when I ___ your ___?"
Hopefully, the response will be something along the lines of, “Yes, I love it.” But if she tells you how to hit the right spot or, better still, shows you, that's a huge win.
For outside of the bedroom, Carey recommended certain conversation starters:
- “How do you express pleasure during sex?”
- “Are there cues that I'm missing when we make love?”
- “What would make sex more pleasurable for you?”
Weiss had suggestions for non-bedroom conversations, too:
- "It really turns me on when you moan during sex; I'd love it if you did that more often."
- "Sometimes I'm not sure if what I'm doing is working because you stay quiet. Is there a reason for that?"
- "Is there anything you'd like me to do differently?"
No matter how you phrase it, make sure to approach the subject from what you can do better rather than what your partner's not doing. If you want your partner to moan or more obviously show you when she's enjoying sex, the key is to empower her and make her feel confident. No blaming, please.
There's nothing wrong with wondering why your girlfriend isn't moaning during sex. Little sounds of pleasure help you know what you're doing is working and give you instant feedback. Wanting to feel validated, especially during sex, is perfectly normal, worth investigating and may just be a lot of fun.