Let's talk porn

For Sexual Health Week 2017 we're talking about porn.

Porn can lead to a lot of questions and we're here to help you find some of the answers.

Do people in real life look like people in porn?

Actors in porn can often look very different to most people.

It can be easy to compare yourself to them, or think you should look like them, but you don't.

Read more about what men and women often look like in porn on the Bish website.

Did you know?

  • According to a study of more than 15,000 men, the average adult penis size is 5.16 inches long when erect, with a circumference of 4.59 inches.
  • A survey by Cosmopolitan magazine found that more young women under 35 have some pubic hair (53%) than no pubic hair (47%).
  • The same survey found more young men (under 30) prefer women to have some pubic hair (38%) than no pubic hair (35%).
  • Everyone expects people's faces to look different – well, it doesn't stop there! Every part of the body is different and unique, including the vulva (the external female genitals, including the labia and clitoris). To prove this, check out the Great Wall of Vagina (unfortunately vulva doesn't rhyme with China).

Is porn sex what sex is really like?

Porn films are films, with scripts and cuts for people to have a break to touch up their make up, get hard again, or add more lube.

People don’t normally look that good during sex, or last as long.

Read more about how guys in porn can have penetrative sex for a long time on the Bish website.

Did you know?

  • A study found that people usually spend an average of 5.4 minutes having penetrative sex.
  • A study found that 13% of men have difficulty getting or keeping an erection.
  • 15% of men ejaculate more quickly than they want to.
  • A study found that 15% of men had experienced a lack of interest in sex in the last year.

Because porn is acting, a lot of the things you see people doing probably won’t work in real life.

Most women in porn pretend to orgasm just from vaginal penetration – in real life, most women usually need clitoral stimulation to orgasm.

Most men in porn appear to stay hard for a long time and last a long time before coming. All the stretching and lubrication involved in anal sex usually happens off-screen.

Actors in porn are often shown to enjoy the same things, like spanking or people ejaculating on each other. While some people enjoy these things, many people don’t at all – different people enjoy different things.

Why do you never seem to see condoms or dams in porn?

Condoms and dams aren’t often seen in porn, but they’re important to protect yourself from sexually transmitted infections (STIs). You can get an STI from vaginal, anal or oral sex.

Condoms are still the only method of contraception that can help protect you from sexually transmitted infections (STIs). You can’t tell whether someone has an STI just by looking at them, and as there are often no symptoms, people don’t always realise they have one. And although many STIs are easy to treat we’re also finding that common STIs such as gonorrhoea are becoming resistant to antibiotic treatment. So it’s always better to protect yourself in the first place by having safer sex and using condoms.

Some people say that they don’t like how condoms feel – one in five men who we surveyed reported that they hadn’t used a condom because they didn’t like the feeling – but this can often be because they’re not using the best condom for them. For example, if condoms feel too tight, a bigger size may be more comfortable. Some condoms are flared to improve comfort and make them easier to put on.

If you haven’t used condoms much then you might get anxious about whether you’ll be able to use one correctly. Don’t be afraid to practice with them when you’re on your own, for instance when you’re masturbating. It’s also really worth trying different kinds, including varying shapes and sizes to find which type feels best for you. This helps to make condoms an aid to pleasurable sex, rather than something which creates awkwardness.

Don’t forget that external (male) condoms aren’t the only option. There are also internal (female) condoms and some people prefer these for a variety of reasons, for example, you can put them in before sex, and some people find them more comfortable than male condoms.

Am I looking at porn too often?

Because people can find porn so enjoyable or fascinating, some people might watch so much that it starts to have a negative impact on their daily life. If that happens, it’s possible to look at what might be causing it and how you can change things. Read more about this on the Bish website.

Consent and communication

To have sex that everyone involved enjoys, it helps to talk about what you like, ask what other people like, and you should ALWAYS check things are okay before you do them. In porn, any discussion about what’s going to happen and what people are okay with usually happens off-screen, before or during the scene.

Also, a common plot in porn scenes is someone seemingly being forced to do something they don’t want to do. In reality, this has likely been agreed with the actors beforehand. You might like the idea of pretending that one of you hasn’t agreed to something, but this requires a lot of communication to make sure you never do something someone else doesn’t actually want.

You always have the right to say no to anything you don't want to do, as does a partner.

Read more about consent and communication on the Bish website.

Images of yourself or people you know

You might want to share or look at sexy images of yourself or other people you know. This is illegal for under 18s, even if everyone involved consents to it, but police are more likely to prosecute people who share images without consent.

Never share images without consent. If you do take a sexy photo or video, be aware of the risks, avoid including anything recognisable, and only do what you and others are happy and comfortable with.

Read more about this topic on the Bish website.

You have a right not to look at porn and it's perfectly fine not to want to. No one should force you to look at porn or sexual images if you don't want to.

Is it wrong to watch porn?

Different people have different opinions on whether it’s right to look at porn at all, and what type of porn is okay.

Some of the reasons people might have for thinking that using porn is wrong are:

  • they feel that a lot of porn shows women, or people from different ethnicities, in a negative way
  • they're concerned that the actors in pornography are being exploited or harmed
  • they feel porn can give damaging messages about sex and relationships
  • it's against their religion.

People have different opinions about all these areas, and it’s good to discuss them so you can decide what you think for yourself.

Some kinds of porn are illegal, including anything involving people under 18, porn showing acts which threaten a person's life and porn that shows sexual activity between a person and an animal.