With the growth of the internet and smartphones in particular, most people have come into contact with pornography and many consider it a fun ingredient in their sex life!
However, it can also be a little intimidating and set expectations artificially high, particularly for those who are having sex for the first time.
What is pornography?
Pornography – often shortened to porn or porno – is images or video of a sexual nature, aimed at sexually arousing the viewer.
It might be pictures of naked people, people having sex or just people talking about sex in a flirty way.
Most pornography features two or more people having sex. It can be a man and a woman, same sex partners or any number or combination of consenting adults.
As it’s natural for people to have varying sexual desires and fantasies, pornography typically caters for ever taste, fantasy and preference. This includes sex toys, bondage, anal sex, oral sex, young people, older people, thin people, fatter people, tattooed people, blondes, brunettes, all the world’s ethnicities and everything in between!
Whilst some people simply enjoy viewing pornography, many people do so whilst masturbating or before or during sex with their partners.
Is pornography legal?
Yes, most pornography is legal in the UK. This includes solo pornography (of someone naked or masturbating), men and women having sex (straight porn) and people of the same gender having sex (gay or lesbian porn).
Pornography can include oral, vagina and anal sex, fisting, rimming and the use of sex toys. Milder forms of consenting torture, bondage and sadomasochism are also legal.
However, it is illegal to cause a child under 16 to watch a sexual act, including viewing images or video. It is also illegal to sell or supply pornography to someone under 18.
Certain types of extreme pornography, including bestiality (sex with animals), paedophilia (sex with children) and sex which involves extreme acts of pain are illegal to create, sell or own.
You must be at least 16 to participate in the creation of pornography, including topless or naked pictures.
All actors with pornography must fully consent to taking part, so any images of people performing against their will would also be illegal.
Revenge porn – sharing images of an ex-partner – has been illegal since 2014.
Is pornography harmful?
No, viewing or enjoying pornography is a common experience for many people. It is natural to be interested and aroused by it.
However, like many behaviours, in certain circumstances it can sometimes lead to negative effects which you should be aware of.
It doesn’t often happen like the movies!
Watching pornography can put undue pressure on sexual partners to perform.
Pornography typically shows a picture-perfect view of sex. Though there is a wide variance, women often have larger breasts and men often have larger penises. Both are typically young, slim, athletic and great at having sex!
Within the pornography industry, most actors are selected because of their physical attractiveness and sexual abilities. It’s important to realise they are professionals and often the sex they perform is far from the reality.
Though it may seem like just two or more people having sex, there are likely many people behind the camera. The sex will stop and start and be edited together at the end into the scene you see.
When ordinary people have sex – maybe for the first time or even long into a lasting relationship – many factors can affect how it goes.
You or your partner may not be in the mood. You may struggle to get aroused, erect or wet. You may find certain sexual positions uncomfortable, find it hard to orgasm or cum too quickly. This is all very normal!
It’s important to realise that pornography is somewhat artificial. Particularly if you are inexperienced, try to relax with your partner, take it a step at a time, discuss any concerns and do not feel the pressure to perform as they do in the movies!
Can you have too much pornography?
Excessive consumption of pornography has been linked to a number of issues.
Some people who masturbate frequently whilst watching pornography can find it difficult to be aroused or reach orgasm without it, such as having sex with their partner.
Like any pleasure, pornography can become habitual and addictive, particularly as a distraction from other issues or unhappiness. Continually watching pornography can begin to have an impact on ordinary life.
When can I view pornography?
Pornography is something which you should ideally enjoy in private or with a consenting partner.
Because you never know who you might expose pornography too, you should not view it in a public place such as a classroom, workplace or on public transport.
Try to find a quiet and secure location where you won’t be disturbed or surprised by others.
Though there are many moral debates about pornography – particularly the wellbeing and safety of those involved in making it – it is legal, widely consumed and perfectly natural to find it sexually arousing and fun.
You should not feel ashamed of viewing pornography. It is responsibly enjoyed by a large proportion of society!
However, if you ever feel like your consumption of pornography is having a detrimental effect, contact us for support and advice.