If You Masturbate to Porn, Here Are 3 Things a Sex Educator Wants You to Think About

Sex educator and YouTube star Laci Green shares a few pointers for maintaining a healthy relationship with porn in this excerpt from her new book, Sex Plus: Learning, Loving, and Enjoying Your Body.

At the end of each year, massive porn distribution site PornHub releases their “Year in Review” detailing their website’s analytics. During the years of 2015 and 2016, they reported that over 9 billion hours of porn was consumed on their website. When you do the math, that translates to over one million years that humans spent watching porn—in just two years, on just one of the thousands of porn websites online. So, uh . . . that’s pretty crazy.

If you masturbate to pornography, it’s important to maintain a healthy relationship with it. Scientists are still researching how pornography affects us, so we don’t have a ton of objective (ahem, unbiased) guidance on what “healthy porn usage” really means. But hey, we do have common sense. Here are some things to think about.

Masturbate without porn, too

If you can’t masturbate without porn, you may be conditioning yourself to only respond to certain types of sexual imagery. While it is only anecdotal, some people have told me they feel watching too much porn made it harder for them to become aroused in real-life situations, with real people. Shake your routines up once in a while.

Don’t use porn to deal with your feelings

Most people watch porn because it’s entertaining and they’re horny. But in some cases, people use porn as a distraction when they’re upset with a partner, when they’re feeling lonely, or even when they’re angry. In other words, porn is a coping mechanism. It’s good to do a self-check-in about porn usage, and how you feel when you use it. If you find you are using porn as a distraction, be proactive about finding healthier ways to deal. Talk to a friend, vent it out in some writing, or seek out a counselor.

Remember that pornified sex isn’t necessarily good sex

The most common complaint I hear about porn is about partners who try to reenact porn sex in real life. But porn doesn’t always keep it real—and it isn’t always the best model for good sex.

The bodies seen in porn don’t always reflect a typical body. In porn, you are more likely to encounter actors who change their bodies with supplements, drugs, or surgeries. Their bodies may not only look different, but move differently during sex. In commercial porn, bodies are also movie-magicked with flattering angles, fluffers (people on set who help keep a male porn star erect), and editing.

A common unreality of porn is that the sex depicted usually centers on male pleasure and entertainment. IMO a big part of the reason for that is that porn is more often directed by men, and assumed to be for other men to watch (women don’t like sex, ’member?). Lesbian porn is a notable example. My favorite is when they rub boobs together or suck on a dildo for ten minutes (lolwut?), both acts that generally aren’t very stimulating for women. In straight porn, this happens too—hence the proliferation of “money shots” and blow jobs that would make the average person gag.

Another notable unreality in porn is rushing through outercourse and other types of sex—or leaving it out entirely—and going straight to penetration. Obviously, it’s hard to say “That’s bad sex!” because everyone’s preferences are different. But in most cases, skipping everything but penetration is bad sex. In gay porn, rushing to penetration happens too, skipping over other types of sex and the preparation required to make sex safe and pleasurable.

The sex positions that are popular in porn are usually meant to maximize visual stimulation, not pleasure or comfort. You don’t usually need to hang upside down or have your feet wrapped back around your head to have a good time—and despite its prevalence in porn, most women don’t like having their face ejaculated on.

In a similar vein, porn often neglects safety. WHERE ARE THE FREAKING CONDOMS? And while we’re asking, where is the freaking consent? You might argue that consent is meant to be implied (it is porn after all), but some porn clips I’ve stumbled upon really disturbed me. In some clips, it’s not clear that the person in the video is actually okay with what’s happening, nor are they aware they’re being recorded. For all I know, these clips may be a live filming of sexual assault and rape. It’s dark, but it’s real, and it poses difficult ethical questions about pornography. It is not ethical to participate in the sexual exploitation of others. But how do you know what porn is ethical and what isn’t? One way to cut down on sexual exploitation is to actually pay for porn, from companies that have a good reputation and take care of their performers. 

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Excerpted from the book SEX PLUS: Learning, Loving, and Enjoying Your Body by Laci Green. Copyright © 2018 by Laci Green. Reprinted with permission of HarperCollins Children’s Books.

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