Girlfriend’s shrieks during sex are waking up the neighbours

Suzi Godson says that tomen who make a lot of noise during sex are, to some degree, performing to elicit and, indeed, to augment male ejaculation. 

Q. My girlfriend is so noisy in bed that she wakes our neighbours. I feel embarrassed because they have mentioned it, but I don’t want to make her self-conscious or curtail her fun.

A. The first thing you should do is pacify the people next door. Having a conversation with them, however awkward, will also add weight to the conversation that you need to have with your girlfriend.

You are clearly concerned that she will react badly to the conversation, but you can, legitimately, blame this on the neighbours. 

Explain that they have asked if you both, as a couple, could turn the volume down while you are having sex.

Use “we” rather than “you” to make it a mutual problem, and keep the tone light. 

It is never easy to tackle something such as this, and bringing up the subject will probably feel terribly awkward. 

However, once the issue is out in the open it will make it easier and more acceptable for you to say a loving “shhh” if she starts to get too carried away.

Also, keeping noise levels to a minimum could become quite an erotic restriction, and the idea that your neighbours might be voyeuristically listening may create a kind of sexy frisson that intensifies the sexual experience for you both.

Like all forms of communication, the noise your girlfriend makes during sex is her way of telling you something, but precisely what is unclear.

In academic terms, sex noises are called copulatory vocalisations and there have been several theories about why they happen and what they mean.

In 1980 the sexual psychologist Roy Levin conducted an experiment which established that female sexual noises can be suppressed.

More recently, in 2011, the psychologists Gayle Brewer and Colin Hendry from the Universities of Central Lancashire and Leeds mapped the moment that women were most likely to orgasm on to the times that women were most likely to make noise during sex.

They found that while most women are most likely to orgasm during foreplay, through stimulation by a partner, or oral sex (rather than penetrative), they make the most noise just before their male partner’s orgasm.

This means that, rather than being some kind of unconscious expression of sexual pleasure, women who make a lot of noise during sex are, to some degree, performing to elicit and, indeed, to augment male ejaculation.

I’m not suggesting that she is faking her own orgasm in order to induce yours, but these studies do suggest that she may, to some degree, be waking the neighbours in order to enhance your sexual experience and indicate that she is ready for you to orgasm.

The studies also confirm that sex noises are not involuntary, so your girlfriend is almost certainly capable of controlling them.

That said, because your goal is to preserve her self-esteem, it probably wouldn’t be a good idea to tell her that scientific research has determined that the noises she makes during sex are a performance for your benefit, rather than an authentic expression of her sexual passion.

In contrast, if you tell her that you (collectively) need to be quieter during sex because the neighbours have complained, her dignity and her integrity remain intact.

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