We know that watching porn can be a fun way to fantasize and feel sexy, but there are actually many therapeutic benefits as well. Whether you are discovering your sexual interests, finding new ways to be sexual with a partner, or looking for ways to feel comfortable and confident in your desires, porn can provide a healthy, safe resource for learning about and expressing your sexuality.

Here are some ways you can use porn to improve your sexual health both physically and emotionally.

1. Porn helps normalize diverse sexual interests 

If you are never exposed to sexual practices outside of standard heteronormative representations, it is more difficult to become comfortable with desires that do not fit that narrow box. Just as sex ed helps us learn about the mechanics of sex, pornography is how many people figure out how to relate to their sexualities. Porn is obviously not an ideal replacement for actual sexual education, but it’s a great resource for exploring different sexual practices. For those whose sexuality is commonly shamed or marginalized (women, LGBTQ folks, folks who engage in kinky sex, etc.), seeing their desires played out in porn, and thereby normalized, can be incredibly empowering.

2. Porn makes it easier to discover your sexual orientation and interests 

Not sure what turns you on? Porn is a great way to find out. There is literally a type of porn for every preference and kink you can imagine. Porn is a safe place to learn about your sexuality in a way that has much fewer emotional or health consequences for yourself or others. For people who do not have opportunities for sexual contact with others for a variety of reasons (folks with disabilities or chronic illnesses, elderly or adolescent folks, LGBTQ folks in small towns, etc.), porn may be their only source of sexual information or pleasure.

3. Porn provides healthy sexuality for both single people and couples 

Masturbation is key to a healthy solo sex life, whether you are having partnered sex or not. It affirms sexual autonomy by serving as a reminder that you own your pleasure, not a partner.

While porn can be a great source of sexuality for single people, it can also increase arousal and provide more options for couples. Porn can help couples find new ways to be sexual and provides a way for them to introduce kinks to each other. For monogamous couples with uneven sex drives, porn can provide diversity for the partner with a higher sex drive and can increase arousal for the partner with a lower sex drive.

4. Porn can help sexual assault survivors reclaim their sexuality 

Porn can be an empowering tool for survivors of sexual assault to rediscover their sexuality and determine their pleasure on their own terms in a safer, controlled environment. While some porn can be triggering for survivors, the right kind can help rebuild sexual confidence and agency after trauma. Porn can be a way for survivors to experience pleasure independently and explore their desires in a way that is less intense than partnered sex.

5. Porn can be a self-affirming form of representation 

Again, you can find porn for almost anything, including videos featuring diverse gender identities, races, abilities, and body types. Presenting marginalized or non-normative bodies as sexual and erotic shows that anyone can both have desires and be desirable. This type of porn allows us to unlearn the dominant narratives we have been socialized to believe about which types of bodies have permission to be sexual.

Although porn, like most mainstream media, is often criticized for being quite homogenous in its representation (i.e. white, thin, cis, and able-bodied), more diverse perspectives are added every day.

6. Porn provides a space for female sexuality 

In case you hadn’t noticed, here at Bellesa we believe that feminists can like (actually, love) porn AND that porn can be feminist. Why? Because porn affirms the existence of female sexual desire, providing a much-needed counterbalance to a culture that represses and shames female sexuality.

Watching porn can be a great way to increase your sexual comfort and inform an overall sex positive approach.

7. Porn is a form of stress relief 

We know that masturbation is a proven stress-reducer, and porn has similar relaxing abilities. Looking at sexual images sparks the same happy hormones in your body that come from touching yourself, relieving physical tension and allowing you to chill out. Porn can also add to your masturbatory pleasure by amping up arousal and helping you focus.