A recent item in the New York Times science section got me thinking about the sounds we make during sex. The piece opens with the claim that other primates sexual vocalizations are more complicated than humans. As it turns out, thatís not true. Or at least thereís no way for us to know if itís true or not, because practically no one has studied human sex sounds.
In the one relatively thorough review of the subject, Dr. Roy Levin, a biomedical scientist and sexologist suggests that researchers may have ignored human sex sounds because they believe them to be a by-product of the important action and unworthy of close study. Contrary to this, Levin argues that there may be many reasons we make the sounds we make, including:
- Conveying information to our partner about our arousal levels, what we like, and what we donít
- Increasing our sexual arousal levels and/or that of our partner(s)
- Enhancing the experience of pleasure (referred to as ďhedonic amplificationĒ, which is also a great name for a band)
- Facilitating other arousal systems
In one of the only other studies to include a discussion of human sex sounds (evocatively titled ďOn the Function of Groaning and Hyperventilation During Sexual Intercourse: Intensification of Sexual Experience by Altering Brain Metabolism through HypocapniaĒ) researchers hypothesize a relationship between the sounds we make and our breathing, and how the two may add to feelings of euphoria during sexual interactions.
Apparently Kinsey mentions sex sounds briefly in his volume on female sexuality but erroneously suggests that sounds during orgasm cannot be controlled (something disproven in a laboratory study where, knowing there were a team of grad students just behind the glass, female participants managed to make no noise during arousal and orgasm).
And thatís pretty much all we know. I tend to think that any of Levinís reasons might be true, but itís probably also likely that we make noises because weíre exerting ourselves. Itís hard not to think about sex sounds watching Wimbledon or even going to the gym some days. I do wonder though if there is a relationship between certain kinds of physical activity and the sounds we make. For example some people note the sounds of childbirth as being at times similar to those of sex.
Iíll leave the last word to you. Have a look at the poll beside this post and raise your voice by letting us know why you think you make the sounds you make (if you make them at all).
Read more Ė The Sounds of Sex