There are benefits - and risks - to pornography

Beata Bothe Credit: AMÉLIE PHILIBERT, UNIVERSITÉ DE MONTRÉAL
Beata Bothe Credit: AMÉLIE PHILIBERT, UNIVERSITÉ DE MONTRÉAL

A new study reveals that viewing porn can either help or hinder sexual satisfaction, depending on the type of content. Consuming pornography can lead to improved sexual satisfaction - or it can be detrimental to it, as different content types are associated with different outcomes. That’s what’s revealed in a new study by Université de Montréal psychology professor Beáta Bothe , published in February in the Journal of Sex Research.

She and her colleagues looked at how viewing different types of pornographic content-group sex, passion-and-romance, gender-bending, taboo-transgression and forbidden sex, power-, controland rough-sex-affected sexual satisfaction among young adults.

Among those aged 17 to 30, the use of passionate and romantic pornography was associated with greater sexual satisfaction, while the use of power, control and rough sex pornography was associated with lower sexual satisfaction.

Bothe believes that the more "realistic" scenarios in romantic or passionate content can inspire young adults with ideas they can apply during their own sexual experiences. With pleasant settings, caring exchanges and good communication between partners, these scenarios "also evoke more positive emotions in general," she said.

In contrast, rough-sex scenes are less morally acceptable and actionable in real life, she said.

"Not having the opportunity to act out these scenarios could negatively impact viewers’ sexual desire, as there would be a mismatch between their sexual activities and their idea of what is sexually pleasurable and exciting. Viewers may also sense that the content isn’t aligned with their values."

In another longitudinal study of Quebec teenagers, Bothe found that between 60 and 65 per cent of youths consume at least one form of pornography before the age of 14.

In her view, the new data underscores the importance of educating young people about pornography use, including the potential benefits and risks.

Given the fact that some content can be harmful, she also believes that awareness-building should be extended to content creators.

"As a society, we should think about pornography production and limit unethical content that could be harmful to consumers’ sexual health," she said.

She argues that future research should include different types of pornographic content to allow a better understanding of the complex associations between pornography use and sexuality.