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What is pornography?

Pornography consists of video, photos, or words that are meant to be sexually exciting or entertaining for adults.

What happens if you watch porn?

Pornography can lead to unhealthy ideas about sex, relationships, and gender if you’re not ready to think about what exactly you’re seeing. That’s because it can be easy to confuse pornography with real life, and even start believing that what happens in porn is what’s supposed to happen in real life sex. But there are some big differences between porn sex vs. real life sex. 

Whether you came across pornography (AKA porn) by accident or googled it because you were curious, you may have questions or concerns about what you saw. It’s normal to have both good and bad feelings after seeing pornography.

How are porn sex and real-life sex different?

There are key differences between what you see, hear, or read about in porn and what happens in real life. It’s important to recognize that porn sex isn’t like real sex. 

Porn sex is different than real life sex in lots of ways:

  • The people onscreen are acting as part of their job. 

  • They usually don’t show birth control or safer sex (like condoms). 

  • There’s often a lack of communication and consent — verbal or nonverbal. This is because there are usually contracts and agreements made on set about what is going to happen before they film it.

  • People in porn may change parts of their body and how they look just for the camera, which doesn’t necessarily represent the variety of types of real bodies in the world. Comparing your own body and the bodies of others to the people you see in porn can be hurtful to you and others. 

  • It doesn’t show some things that can happen from sex (like STDs and pregnancy).

What happens if I watch porn? What should I do if I see it?

You may have a lot of feelings about porn, and it’s normal to feel a little awkward when asking questions. You may even feel shame or embarrassment. If and when you do come across pornography, it’s a good idea to talk with an adult you trust about it, like a parent, teacher, counselor, or close relative to help you think through what you saw, and what’s safe and appropriate for your age. Your parents may not have all the answers, but they can help you make the right decisions to stay safe and healthy in real life and online. Try to listen and keep an open mind. Get more tips on talking with adults in your life about this stuff.