New study investigates over 2,000 orgasm recordings

A new study titled "Why do people make noises in bed?" conducted at Lund University's Division of Cognitive Science in Sweden provides the first in-depth analysis of authentic human sexual vocalizations. The research analyzed over 30 hours of audio recordings of people vocalizing during sex and masturbation. The audio recordings were obtained from a website called, an existing online repository where people publicly share recordings of their own sexual vocalizations and orgasms. The authors downloaded over 3500 files from this website, filtered out unsuitable ones based on criteria like length and noise levels, and retained 2239 recordings totaling around 34 hours of audio for analysis.

Here are some key takeaways from the paper:

  • Both men and women make noises during sex, contrary to stereotypes that women are more vocal. Men vocalized nearly as much as women during orgasm.
  • Vocalizations become longer, louder, higher-pitched, and more erratic as arousal increases, likely indicating orgasm. This pattern held true for both sexes.
  • Although some speaking occurs early on, vocalizations at orgasm itself are overwhelmingly non-verbal moans and bursts. This suggests a loss of cortical control over vocalizations at peak arousal.
  • Women vocalize more throughout sex compared to men, who vocalize mostly at orgasm. This may indicate that women's moans serve additional purposes beyond spontaneous expressions of pleasure.
  • Excessively loud/long vocalizing is perceived as less genuine by listeners. More variable pitch and loudness sound more authentic.
  • The findings suggest human sexual vocalizations include both voluntary/strategic moans and involuntary moans of pleasure, especially at orgasm. They share features with sounds indicating pleasure in other contexts.

From the paper:

Putting all these observations together, what emerges is a picture of two distinct vocal behaviors: strategically deployed controlled moans at low arousal and spontaneous vocal bursts once arousal exceeds a certain threshold. Men mostly sigh and grunt until the arousal level becomes very high; women either have a lower threshold for vocalizing (producing phonated moans) or perhaps are used to exaggerating their expressive behaviors. Of note, the common interpretation that women moan merely to stimulate their (male) partners does not hold because, in this corpus, often there is no partner. It is impossible to analyze this quantitatively, but listening to the recordings and examining file names suggests that a large proportion represent masturbation. Of course, recordings without any vocalizations at all would be unlikely to be uploaded in the first place, and the few that were had to be excluded because there was nothing to analyze. Still, solitary pleasure is often surprisingly vocal, going against self-reports of little or no moaning during masturbation.