Oh, ooooooh, ah. Oh. My. God. Yeah. Right there. Ah, ahh, yesssss.
On the off chance that you don't know what the eff is happening in that first sentence, it was my pathetic attempt at writing what a sexual moan sounds like. So if you don't understand, good news: We're here to help you dissect and interpret every kind of moan, plus give you a little refresher on pretty much everything and anything you ever wanted to know about sex noises.
Whether you're a natural-born moaner who worries that maybe you're a little too loud in bed, or you're a more reserved lover who could've sworn people only made sounds in porn, we have a sexpert answer every single one of your moaning-related questions below. (Don't worry, it's totes norms.)
Why do people moan during sex?
Odds are, you're moaning because you're enjoying yourself, says Gigi Engle, LifeStyles brand ambassador, certified sex coach, and author of All the F*cking Mistakes: A Guide to Sex, Love, and Life. "It's a natural, animalistic response on the most basic of levels," she says. "When we're feeling pleasure, we start to lose control over our bodies. The somatic nervous system takes a back seat and we can't control the sounds that come out as a result."
On the flip side, you might be moaning in an attempt to fake it. "There are times when women moan during sex to be performative as well," Engle continues. "Sometimes we over-exaggerate our noises in an attempt to quell the ego of a partner (mostly men, to be real)."
Okay, so what does moaning exactly mean in sex situations?
More often than not, moaning should serve as a green light. "Moaning signifies that what your partner is doing feels good," says Engle. "If something feels good, make some noise to let them know they should keep doing that thing! Moaning is a good indicator that something is working and silence is a good indicator that it's not."
Now here's where it gets tricky: Not everyone is super comfortable letting out sounds that aren't familiar to them, so communication is key. Always check in with your partner to make sure that what you're doing feels good to them (whether they're moaning or not).
I'm not a mind reader! How can I tell if my partner's moans are good or bad?
Pay attention to your partner's body language while they're moaning. "A good moan sounds like they're having pleasure, whereas a bad moan is more like 'OW!' Like, a sharper and more guttural reaction," says Engle. "It would likely be met with the body recoiling from the touch."
That being said, just straight-up asking your partner how they're feeling is your best bet when it comes to figuring out how they're feeling. "Keep in mind that different people make different sounds. Something may sound like a bad moan, but that's just the way that person expresses pleasure," Engle notes. "If you're ever confused about a good moan or a bad moan, take a beat to ask if what you're doing feels good. You should never keep doing something that your partner isn't enjoying." Communication is everything.
How do I teach my S.O. the difference between my diff moans?
Again, Engle says the key is communication. "Don't just say 'ouch' if something doesn't feel right," she says. "Tell your partner to do something else. For instance, 'Baby, can you move your mouth a little higher?' or 'Can you slow down a little bit? I like it slower.'" Don't be afraid to ask for what you want because in some cases, if you don't ask, you might not receive.
I feel like I'm not loud enough. Does the volume of my moan really matter?
In short: no. "People can get self-conscious about their moaning, but I say live your damn life," says Engle. "Moan as loudly or as softly as you want. If someone is rude to you about how loud you are, don't have sex with them. There are plenty of people out there who will appreciate it." There's no right or wrong way to sound, mmkay?
How do I get into it if I haven't really moaned before?
Getting into moaning is as simple as just deciding to do it. "If you want to moan, but it's not your thing—just consciously moan when something feels good," says Engle.
That being said, she makes it clear that moaning is by no means necessary. "There's nothing wrong with making other noises," Engle says. Just communicate with your partner about when something feels good, and when something doesn't.
Does making noise make sex hotter?
Umm, absolutely. "Moaning is super sexy and it shows that it's a positive experience," she says. "People want to feel like they're doing a good job in bed. It's highly erotic to hear confirmation." Shout out to all my words of affirmation peeps out there who could basically orgasm from hearing someone else's pleasure.
This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.