Why is porn good for you?

He takes off her bra, then peels off her panties. She spreads open her labia. He starts to lick her clit slowly, then faster. You’re touching yourself, watching them, and suddenly you start to feel a little bit guilty. You don’t know if porn is good for you, and you don’t know where to find quality information about the porn industry or effects of watching.

The truth is that porn is associated with more orgasms, greater intimacy among couples who talk about it, and easier arousal, among other things. Let’s dig into the research.

 

Should I feel bad for watching porn?

Before we get to the good stuff, let’s address the elephant in the room. Feeling shame about porn consumption is common. When you’ve heard from adults, media, institutions, and culture throughout your life that sexuality itself is shameful or immoral, it makes sense that you’ve wondered if porn is bad.

According to sexual psychophysiologist Nicole Prause, PhD, “forcing yourself to view pornography against which you hold strong beliefs is likely to cause shame and guilt.” If you do hold strong beliefs against pornography, watching it probably won’t make you feel too great.

That said, there’s a lot of misinformation that might contribute to these anti-porn beliefs.

It’s important to know that legal porn is not the same as image-based sexual abuse, and sex work is not the same thing as trafficking. Conflating sex work with abuse hurts sex workers and other people in the porn industry, many of whom are women.

Pro tip: If you want to be sure sex workers are paid fairly, actors are 18+, and everyone on-set is being treated with respect, consider paying for your porn through an ethical porn site like afterglow.

You may also have heard the myth that porn “hijacks” your brain. According to Prause, “pornography does not ‘hijack’ anything in the brain, it does not ‘flood’ the brain with dopamine, it is not a ‘superstimulus,’ and it absolutely is not ‘more addictive than cocaine.’” Prause calls these myths “panic language,” and says they show “a basic lack of education in neuroscience.” Learn more about Prause’s research.

That said, if you feel your relationship with visual erotica is interfering with your daily life, goals, or values, consider reaching out to a trusted clinician, mental health professional, or sex therapist to have a conversation about it. Your relationship with porn is yours. If it isn’t contributing positively to your life, it’s completely okay not to watch.

 

How many people watch porn?

A 2017 study of couples found that 98% of men and 73% of women had watched pornography in the past six months. Most women who watch do it to get aroused. The majority of people who watch experience no negative consequences from it.

So, should you feel bad for consuming porn? Nope! Unless it brings you pleasure to feel bad, you deserve to feel good about your self-pleasure and good about your porn.

 

Why is porn good for you? Five reasons

Now that we’ve left the myths behind, let’s get to the pleasure. Here are five reasons that consuming porn can be good for you.

 

1. Self-pleasure is the safest form of sex

Feeling safe is a prerequisite for good sex. And solo sex is as safe as it gets.

When you’re pleasuring yourself solo, there’s no risk of STI transmission or pregnancy, you’re aware of and can honor your own boundaries without having to say a word, and you have complete freedom to explore your desires or fantasies. No pressure, shame, or risk.

That said, there are safe and pleasurable ways to enjoy porn with a partner. Mutual masturbation, for example, is a low-risk, sexy activity that can be paired with porn.

 

2. Porn use is correlated with increased sexual satisfaction

Consuming porn is correlated with increased sexual satisfaction. Women who use it to masturbate have an easier time getting aroused, report greater pleasure during sex, and have more orgasms.

 

Happy woman in bed smiles and stretches

 

Women who see clitoral self-stimulation in visual erotica are also more likely to stimulate their own clitoris during partnered sex. Clitoral self-stimulation leads to greater orgasm consistency. *chef’s kiss*

 

3. Consuming porn can improve the quality of your relationship

Partners who watch visual erotica together report higher satisfaction with their relationship and sex life than partners who don’t. According to Prause, “porn likely helps reduce the desire discrepancy with a higher-desire partner” and a lower-desire partner.

 

Lesbian couple embrace

 

One other reason for this higher satisfaction might be that women who watch erotica say they have improved communication during sex. Talking about porn with a partner can be a wonderful way to start a conversation about desires, sexual fantasies, kinks, and more. Some partners send videos to one another to set the mood, feel closer, and light a spark. Other partners even watch together.

 

4. Seeing a diversity of bodies can improve body image and self-esteem

Mainstream porn isn’t typically diverse, but ethical porn producers are making it a priority to showcase the natural, beautiful diversity of bodies.

Images that depict a variety of natural vulvas can improve genital self-image for people with vulvas who see them. Women who watch porn say they feel more comfortable being nude and report greater self-esteem. Men who watch also report greater self-esteem and feel more satisfied with their bodies. And porn consumers tend to have more accurate knowledge of sexual anatomy and physiology.

Porn that portrays a diversity of bodies and sexual preferences might help you see your own body or sexuality in a new light. Maybe you’ve always wondered what it looks like when you’re grinding on top. Or what your partner sees when your legs are spread open while they eat you out. (Turns out, you look hot as hell, but don’t take our word for it. Start your afterglow membership and give Lip Service a watch to see an example of the real thing. 😉)

 

5. You can explore your sexual identity through porn

Visual erotica can be a safe place to explore your sexual identity, learn about what you like, and get off. Maybe you’re into specific kinks like BDSM or age play, or maybe you’re curious about certain sex acts that you’re not ready to try in real life yet. There also might be stories, kinks, or sex acts you like to imagine, but don’t ever want to experience physically. Porn is a great way to incorporate fantasies into your sex life, with or without the intention of ever experiencing them in real life.

You can also use visual erotica to affirm or explore your sexual orientation. If you’re queer or questioning, consuming porn that depicts body types, genitals, sex acts, and gender expressions you’re into can be a validating and sexy time.

 

woman lies in bed in warm lighting looking at laptop

 

The truth? Porn can be good for you

Visual erotica is a safe way many people explore sex, feel more sexually satisfied, and experience more orgasms. Porn can help you feel comfortable communicating during sex, better about your body, and closer with your partner, especially when you consume it mindfully.

…Did we mention more orgasms? 😇

 

How to get started with visual erotica

If you’re new to porn, it can be intimidating to know where to start. afterglow is a safe platform featuring ethical porn made by women, educational content, and guided exercises led by sexologists, intimacy coaches, and other experts.

Sign up in just a few clicks, pay what you want, and know that your privacy will always be protected

 

I’m ready to start

 


 

About afterglow

At afterglow, we’re building an online universe where porn is made by and for the feminine gaze. Where doing guided masturbations and partner exercises is as normal as reading the morning paper. Where having a better, more playful, more fulfilled relationship to sex is as easy as a monthly membership.

 

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