Loud, moany sex — is it a cliche, or is it something that’s actually relevant? According to a new study, while it may happen and it may be fun or pleasant, it’s not an indication of orgasm. In other words, if your partner is moaning, that doesn’t truly say anything about their climax.
Female orgasms, the authors of the new study write, remain a “poorly understood aspect of female sexual response,” particularly because of a lack of validated self-report measures. To address this, a team of researchers from the University of Ottawa in Canada led by Amy Webb surveyed 637 women about their experiences with orgasms — both by themselves and with a partner. The study included 136 perimenopausal and 194 post-menopausal women, as well as 229 pre-menopausal women.
The female participants were questioned on the ‘Orgasm Rating Scale’ (ORS), which is one of the few self-report scales used in orgasm research. The scale can be used both for intercourse and masturbation and has been found to provide reliable, valid measures of the subjective experience of orgasm.
The questionnaire had several responses that participants could associate with climaxing, inculding things like “trembling,” “quivering,” and “pulsating.” It also included emotional responses such as “loving,” “passionate,” or “tender.”
“Factors included pleasurable satisfaction, ecstasy, emotional intimacy, relaxation, building sensations, flooding sensations, flushing sensations, shooting sensations, throbbing sensations, and general spasms,” the researchers write in the study.
As it turns out, “pleasurable satisfaction” was reported as the most common item, in contrast with “emotional intimacy” and “shooting sensations”, which were very uncommon.
Moaning was also extremely uncommon — in fact, it was so uncommon that researchers suggest removing it as a measure of climax entirely, especially as it appears to be a voluntary reaction.
“We recommend that the item “moaning” be removed from the measure permanently,” the researchers wrote. “All other items appear to relate to involuntarily responses occurring throughout the orgasm experience,” the researchers note.
The aim of this study was to better understand how female orgasms work and tackle some of the common myths regarding them. Ultimately, this type of self-reported approach can also help tailor interventions for women struggling with lower orgasm quality.
“With valid measurement options, it is anticipated that we will learn more about women’s orgasm experiences and ultimately be able to provide more effective clinical services for women who experience difficulties with orgasm or find the experience lacking in satisfaction,” the study authors conclude.
The study also suggests that the ORS is a valuable measure and should be used in further studies — without the moaning part. There’s still, undoubtedly, a place for moaning in sex. But it’s not connected to orgasms.
The study was published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine.