Illustration by Celia Jacobs
by Gigi Engle
Have you ever laughed out loud during sex? How about cried? Have you ever wondered if the moans you make are too loud, too soft, or too odd? Have you been too embarrassed by that high-pitched hyena yelp you make you orgasm to ever think about it fully?
You’d be shocked how my emails I receive from readers or potential clients wondering if their general sex noises, emotional outbursts during sex, or orgasm sounds and facial expressions are normal. People are extremely self-conscious about their sexualities from A to Z. And not just their quirks during sex, but those of their partners as well. We don’t always know how to communicate with each other about sex, so we don’t know how to make sense of anything that doesn’t follow a “social script.”
The truth of it is that we all do weird things during sexual play, intercourse, orgasm, and afterplay. Life is not a porn video; we don’t get to have takes and post-editing in our real sex lives. Sex is a messy, weird, funny, hot, sexy, awkward, often hilarious thing we engage in and it never looks the way you’d expect.
Here is how to embrace all of your weird sex reactions. Whether it’s laughing, crying, queefing, high-pitched moaning, or anything else, life is too short to worry about how you sound or look when you’re getting off.
Sex is an emotional rollercoaster
There are many unexpected and sometimes embarrassing reactions our bodies and emotions have during sex. Sex is an emotional free-for-all. It can be hot, sad, passionate, beautiful, and weird all at the same time.
“From our brains to our genitals, our bodies are thrown for a loop as large amounts of pleasure drugs hit our nervous system,” explains Daniel Saynt, the founder of The New Society for Wellness (NSFW), a sex-positive members-only club that hosts sexual education workshops. “Powerful levels of oxytocin and dopamine are dumped into our brains, causing unexpected and sometimes hilarious reactions.”
Sex is a messy, weird, funny, hot, sexy, awkward, often hilarious thing and it never looks the way you'd expect.
Our bodies react in myriad ways when we’re bonding with a partner, feeling intimacy and raw, intense pleasure. You may react differently when you’re with someone you have an emotional connection with, or you may not.
Sometimes the ways our bodies react don’t seem to align with how we’re feeling. For example, you might be so deeply, passionately in the moment during sex that you burst into tears for no reason. Another time you might yourself giggling uncontrollably, not because anything was slapstick-funny, but because you feel so carefree and are enjoying yourself so fully. Still other times you might feel you’re so powerfully turned on that out of nowhere emerges a guttural, animalistic grunt or roar.
“Sex can be an emotional journey and sometimes feelings of sadness, joy, release of built-up tension and surprising feelings of attachment towards a partner can arise,” says Kristine D’Angelo, a clinical sexologist and certified sex coach. “It’s important to embrace these feelings and own them.”
Weird noises and emotions can continue all the way through a sexual comedown. “After orgasm, some experience jitters and aftershocks, uncontrollable spasms which may be accompanied with additional yelps and moaning,” Saynt says.
You are normal. We promise.
Every single thing that happens—every single sound and overwhelming emotion—is normal. Sex is not by the book and neither are the ways individual bodies react to it. “Each of us are different when it comes to our audible reactions, but none should be things we're embarrassed by,” Saynt adds.
When we let our embarrassment overtake us, we allow it to rob us of the joy that sex can bring. “The wonderful thing about sexuality is it’s yours, it’s unique to you and nobody can take that away,” D’Angelo says.
"If you know you have a specific reaction during sex, it's perfectly okay to tell your partner beforehand."
We need to stop focusing so much on trying to “perform” and instead give into pleasure and all the weird stuff that comes along with it. When you embrace yourself fully, you won’t get tripped up on the small stuff.
How to communicate with your partner
Obviously it can be difficult to bring up someone’s quirky reactions during sex. You don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings and since sex is already such an emotionally fraught enterprise, we often wind up saying nothing in lieu of broaching an uncomfortable topic.
D’Angelo says that the simplest way to embrace your sex sounds is to practice mindful masturbation and learn to be fully in your body. (Luckily we have a whole guide right here!)
Above all, it’s best to be open and honest about everything. “If you start to feel uncomfortable or embarrassed, take the power away from that feeling and let your partner know that you actually embrace your bodily and emotional reactions during sex,” D’Angelo explains.
Saynt says that when you fully embrace your climax and sounds of pleasure, most partners are sure to follow your lead. “If you know you have a specific reaction during sex, it's perfectly okay to tell your partner beforehand,” he says. “Let them know what turns you on and how you might react to it. Whether you're a squirter, a big ejaculator, a convulsion or a howling monkey when you're coming, it's OK to talk about it and share ahead of time.”
The most critical thing to take away is this: We’re all freaks. We all have individual, unique sexualities which are expressed differently by every person. The sooner we stop judging ourselves and others and instead choose to embrace empathy and a gung-ho spirit, the sooner we can all have more orgasms.
Gigi Engle is a certified sex coach, sexologist, educator, and author of All The F*cking Mistakes: A Guide to Sex, Love, and Life. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter at @GigiEngle.