Sex advice with Suzi Godson: My boyfriend is too noisy during sex

My new boyfriend is rather noisy in the bedroom. I find it mortifying that the neighbours can hear him so I’ve asked him to quieten down a little. He promised to rein it in but then seems to get carried away in the moment. It’s just so embarrassing for me.

We all have a duty to be considerate to our neighbours, but honestly, if you can’t have noisy sex in the privacy of your bedroom, where can you have it?

It’s not as if the noisy bit goes on for that long — the average male takes about 5.7 minutes to reach orgasm, so unless your walls are paper-thin, or your neighbours are exceptionally bad-tempered, I think you should stop worrying about what other people think.

You haven’t actually spoken to them, so it is possible that they are oblivious to your boyfriend’s coital vocals, but because you are expecting criticism you interpret a neutral glance or a blank facial expression in a negative way.

Although your boyfriend has tried to keep the noise down, it’s not necessarily something that he can control. Any form of intense physical exertion can make people involuntarily groan with effort — I’m sure you will have noticed the way that tennis players often grunt when they hit the ball. It is mainly to do with changes to the breath.

In the 1960s researchers established that respiratory patterns change significantly during sex. In the period before orgasm, breathing becomes much shallower and more rapid, and after orgasm it becomes much slower and irregular. More recently, research by Dr Torsten Passie at the Hannover Medical School in Germany, has shown that rapid shallow breathing during vigorous sexual activity leads to involuntary groaning when air is expelled.

Passie’s work also explores how rapid shallow breathing can cause a form of hyperventilation, which intensifies sexual excitement and orgasm. Although hyperventilation feels like a lack of oxygen, it actually means the reverse.

When we breathe normally we take in oxygen and expel carbon dioxide, but when we breathe too rapidly, carbon dioxide levels deplete. This can leave us feeling as if we are short of air when really we have too much.

Passie is interested in hyperventilation and sex because some of the physical effects of hyperventilation — lightheadedness, dizziness, not being able to think straight and muscle spasm — are also common to the sensation of imminent sexual climax.

Many people consciously or unconsciously change the way they breathe when they are having sex or masturbating because it intensifies the experience.

It is possible that the reason why your boyfriend is so noisy is because of the way he is breathing; the best way to establish this is simply to observe him more closely next time you have sex.

Since it seems that the noises are involuntary — which means that he can’t control them — try to slow his breathing instead. Learning to breathe deeply through arousal requires a bit of practice, but generally the slower the build, the stronger the climax.

Switching to positions where you make more of the effort will also help. Missionary, for example, is extremely physically challenging for your boyfriend because it requires him to support the weight of his entire upper body with his arms, while making most of the movement too.

In contrast, the cowgirl position, where you straddle him while he lies back with his head on a pillow, should mean that he is less likely to make noise.

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