Researchers studying the mysterious female orgasm have concluded that “moaning” is not part of it and should be removed from a scale routinely used to measure the phenomenon.
Women who were pre, peri and post-menopausal were asked to fill out a questionnaire about their orgasm experiences in both solitary and partnered contexts.
They included questions on both the Orgasm Rating Scale (ORS) and the Bodily Sensations of Orgasm Scale (BSOS) – both commonly used in scientific research into the sensation.
The ORS includes things like “trembling”, “quivering”, “building” and “pulsating” – as well as adjectives relating to emotional intimacy, like “loving”, “passionate” and “tender”.
The BSOS includes things like “faster breathing”, “lower limb spasms”, “facial tingling”, “sweating” and “increased heart rate”.
Researchers at the University of Ottawa found various bodily sensations in both scales to be present, including “choppy/shallow breathing”, “increased blood pressure” and “hot flashes”.
But they recommend that “copulatory vocalisations (eg moaning)” should be removed from the BSOS.
Referring to a previous study from 2011, they say that moaning may be – at least partly – “under women’s conscious control”.
“We recommend that the item ‘moaning’ be removed from the measure permanently,” the study said.
Describing the female orgasm as a “poorly understood aspect of female sexual response”, they set out to investigate, recruiting 637 women aged between 18 and 82.
Research to date has tended to focus on non-occurrence, frequency and dysfunction, they said, with little done on “more subjective psychological aspects”.
After concluding their study, the scientists found that “pleasurable satisfaction was most important to the appraisal of orgasm”.
Adjectives relating to emotional intimacy “may be less relevant within the solitary context”, they added.
Nevertheless, they found that some women “still reported experiencing emotional intimacy during solitary orgasm”.
They put this down to “accessing a more profound experience of one’s own body” – or feeling a sense of “transformative embodiment”.
That translates, they say, as “feeling wholly present in their bodies”.
The study is published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine.