Talking during sex, or even making noises, can feel awkward, scary, forced, or intimidating. For some, just saying the word sex is hard, let alone telling your partner exactly how you want your body to be touched. If you want to start communicating, letting sex noises out, or even dirty talking, but it feels uncomfortable or awkward, we’ve got you covered.
Here are six strategies for breaking the silence in bed.
1. Start by finding the noises and phrases you want to say
If communicating or making noises in bed feels uncomfortable, it’s going to feel even more awkward if it feels forced. Shani Hart, Sex educator at Hart’s Desires, says a good first step can be connecting with the noises you want to make— and to try this first during solo sex. “I love to advise my clients to practice things they would like to work on with their partner(s) by themselves first.”
You can find the noises your body wants to make by “feel[ing] what noises come out of your mouth naturally” and connect with the sounds and moans you want to make when you’re masturbating, says Hart. Doing this on your own can take away the pressure that sometimes comes along with having a partner in the room and allow you to connect with the sounds your body wants to make.
2. Experiment with one word requests
Sometimes, saying full sentences or asking questions during sex can feel intimidating. If it feels awkward to be this vocal during sex, Allison Moon, author of Girl Sex 101 and the new Getting It: A Guide to Hot, Healthy Hookups and Shame-Free Sex, says to “Try using single word requests like ‘slower’ or ‘more.’” Or deeper, higher, softer, faster, etc.
You can also give your partner affirmations using just one word. This could be as simple as saying “Yesss” or letting out a sigh when something feels good.
These one word lines can be sexy ways to let your partner know you're enjoying yourself, ask for an adjustment, or start expressing your sexuality. Moon adds that if you feel inspired, these one word phrases can be a great place to build more communication from. For example, “Yesss, I like that” or “I want more.”
3. Try yes/no and either/or questions
While asking open-ended questions can give you a lot of information about what your partner wants, simple “yes” or “no” questions can be an easier place to start if talking during sex is new or feels uncomfortable.
Moon says to, “Ask questions. Simple yes/no or either/or questions are a good place to start.” For a “yes” or “no” question, Moon gives the example “Do [you] like having your neck kissed?” You might also try things like “Do you want me to touch your __?” or “Would you like it if I __?”
Either/or questions are another great way to hear what your partner wants and start communicating without having to say much. You can say things like “Slower or faster?” “Harder or softer?” “Left or right?” “Up or down?”
4. Talk outside the bedroom
Every expert we talked to recommended talking about sex outside of the bedroom to make communicating in the bedroom a little easier. Anne Mauro, AASECT certified sex therapist and sex educator, tells O.school, “Talking about sex outside of the bedroom to get some practice actually saying the words makes saying the same words in sexual scenarios a little bit easier.”
For some people, saying words like sex, anus, vulva, penis, etc. can be really uncomfortable and intimidating. Mauro notes that when you add in being naked, things can feel far more vulnerable! So for some people, talking about sex outside of the bedroom can feel a little less awkward and help you bring those skills into the bedroom.
You might start a conversation with your partner by saying something like, “I notice we don’t talk much during sex. What do you think about that?” or “I think I would enjoy talking more during sex. How does that feel for you?”
Dr. Laurie Mintz, licensed psychologist, author of Becoming Cliterate and A Tired Woman's Guide To Passionate Sex, tells O.school you can start a conversation by saying something like, “I want to talk to you about something that’s a little awkward for me but I want to do this because I want to make our sex life the best it can be. I’ve read that communicating needs during sex enhances pleasure. I’d like to give this a try. What do you think?”
It can also be helpful to have this conversation while you’re doing another activity together so it doesn’t feel like there's quite as much focus on the topic. For example, bringing it up while you’re cooking, on a walk, or doing something else you typically share together.
5. Think of talking as another kind of turn on
Often, communicating during sex can feel intimidating when it feels like a “formality”— but it doesn’t have to be this way. Thinking of communication as another turn on can make it much less scary and far more fun. “Think of the ear as another sexual organ that is seeking pleasure,” and talk “to your partner about what kind of things each of you would like to hear,” says Mauro.
You can also try dirty talk. Start by asking yourself what words you want to hear your partner say to you and what words would feel good to say out loud.
6. Take sex noises and dirty talk off the table if it’s not for you
If you’re trying to break the silence in the bedroom, but dirty talk and making sex noises just doesn’t feel right— that’s okay! Hart says, “Figuring out that you're just not a huge vocal person and getting acceptance from your partner about it can also be freeing.”
“Something else to think about is that the part of the brain we use to talk (prefrontal cortex) can distract our sexual functioning that is happening in the limbic system. Some people think dirty talk is hot, some find that they have disrupted their sexual response cycle by using their thinking brain,” says Mauro.
If you’re someone that finds dirty talk or making lots of sex noises distracting, let your partner know this. Communicate what your preferences are so they know how to best meet your needs and find other ways to check in and make sure you’re both enjoying yourself.
The bottom line
Speaking up during sex can feel really scary. While it’s essential for getting your needs met, it can feel really intimidating to do, especially if you’re new to it. Remember to try to get in touch with the words or sound your body wants to make. If asking big, open questions is intimidating, start with saying just one word or asking a yes/no or either/or question. And if dirty talking or making sex noises isn’t your thing, that’s okay, too— there are other ways to check in with your partner throughout sex.