A lot of people watch, read, look at or listen to porn. There is nothing inherently wrong with doing this. In the same vein, if you don't approve of porn and don't want to be exposed to it, there's nothing wrong with it either.
"Most people who use porn can do so without negative consequences," says a sexologist on condition of anonymity. You can enjoy porn whether you're single or in a committed relationship. It can add another dimension to sexual enjoyment or open the lines of communication with your partner.
"For others, using porn can get in the way of relationships. For example, if one of you is into porn and the other is totally against it or if one of you is into a type of porn that the other simply can't tolerate it can be a huge problem," he says.
Also people in general feel that too much porn use can sometimes lead to unrealistic sexual expectations or body image issues.
"According to a research conducted in 2018, people are more likely to report feeling 'out of control' after frequent porn use. Moreover it's important to remember that what you see in porn isn't reality. Actors act and directors direct. They get together to make porn flicks for a targeted audience," states the sexologist.
When you're watching a porn film, you're watching a work of fiction. It's no more spontaneous and natural than an action movie or a romantic comedy. "But if you start comparing your own body, sexual performance or ability to attract a sexual partner to the fictional standards of porn, you could be in for some serious issues with confidence and self-esteem," he warns.
While you might learn a thing or two from watching porn or reading a sexy book, it shouldn't be considered an alternative to sex education, which is an entirely different thing.
"Remember, porn is pure fantasy and it isn't created to teach anything about human relationships, sexual development or sexual health. If you have questions about your sexual health, it's best to speak with a doctor or other healthcare provider such as a certified sex therapist," shares the sexologist.
When you're watching a porn film, you're watching a work of fiction. It's no more spontaneous and natural than an action movie or a romantic comedyThere's a lot of porn out there. Today it's easier than ever for children to be exposed to it before they're ready. "Children are forming ideas about sexuality from the porn that reaches them and without guidance some types of porn can cause confusion about serious issues, like consent and objectification," says Rima Hazarika a counselor based in Guwahati.
However clinical counselors are in agreement that removing the sense of 'taboo' can allow for discussions about healthy consumption. The very definition of porn can even vary from person to person. "Because porn is so available these days and more people are checking it out, maybe it's getting easier to talk about it. For it's only when we can openly discuss it that can we tackle issues like how porn use can affect people's lives," reveals the sexologist.
Porn may even have several benefits like normalizing desire and self-exploration too. "Humans come with a wide variety of desires. We may sometimes wonder if ours are normal. When it comes to sexuality, we're often too intimidated or embarrassed to ask about such things. Through porn it can be a relief to find out that we're not so different after all," he observes. "And for some people porn can be a safe way to explore and validate their sexuality," adds Hazarika.
Infact there is some evidence that pornography can be helpful for people who want to explore their sexuality or better understand their sexual identity. "This may be especially true for people who live in rural areas or communities where it's difficult to openly engage with others about their sexuality," she reveals.
Now part of the problem with research on pornography is that many people are still reluctant to talk about it for fear of being judged. Much of the research hence relies on self-reporting. Some effects of porn viewing are quite subjective.When examining research findings, it's important to understand how the study was conducted, who the participants were and who funded the study. "Although research is ongoing, we've got a long way to go,' shares our sexologist.
At the end of the day, if you enjoy porn and it doesn't cause any issues in your life then it is safe and healthy for you. "However, porn isn't for everyone. If you already have a poor body image or worry about sexual performance, you may consider examining your motivations to use it more carefully," advises Hazarika.
So what are some signs that you may be struggling with your porn use? "If you're spending more time on it than you wish, if it's affecting your work or relationships, if you feel that you don't have control over your porn use and are distressed by it, if your sexual expectations have become unrealistic, if you find it difficult to experience pleasurable solo or partnered sex or if you feel shameful or guilty about watching or otherwise engaging with porn you should definitely disengage from it," answers our sexologist.
A qualified therapist or certified sex therapist can help you explore the impact of porn in your life.