sex

'I stopped watching porn one year ago. Here's what I do instead.'

Porn, for the most part, is a tricky subject to speak candidly about. 

Whispering to friends on the bus about your favourite genres on the big PHub has never been my reality, and so, it remained a deeply shameful secret I held onto until I reached adulthood. 

Meaning, I did indeed dabble in the odd late night watch under the covers when I was just a teenager - a kid who hadn't even had their first kiss, yet was inadvertently learning the ins and outs of sex. 

Except what I was exposing myself to was not at all real. 

When it comes to porn, who's watching what when? Post continues below.


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Billie Eilish admitted recently that she was just a measly 11 years old when she was exposed to porn for the first time. 

"I used to watch a lot of porn, to be honest. I think it really destroyed my brain and I feel incredibly devastated that I was exposed to so much," she admitted on The Howard Stern Show.

It's a sad admission, and one that so desperately needed to be shared on a global platform, by an internationally recognised artist. Because many of us, especially young women, have fallen into the category of being exposed to pornographic material at an age where our brains are in the most significant stages of development.

My own run-in with porn began as a young tween - the days of letting go of old stuffed animals and trading them in for new clothes, the right things to say, and cooler friends were replaced with violent and inexplicably broad forms of sex. 

As I grew, the desire to cultivate my own sexual awakening - as an independent, free-thinking woman - was overshadowed by the fact I had been watching porn since I was a prepubescent child. 

So in every sexual encounter, in every moment before and after the deed was completed, I was relying on what the graphic material I had exposed myself to had taught me. 

Brief violence was okay, mutual pleasure wasn't always guaranteed, and the rougher the better. 

It wasn't for years, until I was well into my first ever relationship, that I realised that my perception of sex and sexuality was entirely incorrect. And so thus began a painful, but frankly necessary look into what had altered my perceptions of reality.

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Here is how I gave up watching porn altogether, and what I do instead. 

I cut out porn - in its entirety. 

Research shows porn has a major impact on the shifts in sexual interest for young men and women.

Further, a study found 88 per cent (approximately 251) of porn video titles contained physical violence including physical aggression, principally spanking, gagging, and slapping. 

The effects it has on young women in the long-term can include reduced desires for intimacy and poor body image as well as self-objectification. 

After learning the negative impacts (mostly because I found they aligned with what I was experiencing myself), I stopped watching porn altogether. I found the best way to be in the moment and enjoy sex, masturbation and everything in between was to stop relying on what two actors behind a screen showed me and instead attempt to figure it out for myself. 

This meant speaking up in the bedroom, being clear about what exactly got me off and what didn't, and making mistakes - a lot of them. 

Being a mechanical robot who moaned when it felt appropriate quite literally made me an actor in my own bedroom, with my own partner. So instead, I told him when it hurt; I expressed my desires when I wanted them, and we clarified everything about each other's sexual abilities that didn't feel good or weren't quite right. 

It was somewhat of an ego blow, but guess what? It made me better the next time round, and I found myself enjoying the journey to the big O much more. 

The process of giving up porn, especially when it is the easiest way to get off, is difficult. It requires deep inward reflection (more than you would think) and demands more care and attention when masturbating or having sex. 

Join Psycho-Sexologist Chantelle Otten, as she answers all your sex and relationship questions on Mamamia's podcast Sealed Section. Post continues after podcast.

So don't feel guilty if you find cutting the cord altogether a long and arduous process. 

In fact, cutting it off entirely is not exactly realistic. So here are the personal tips I have gathered for staying away from unethical porn. 

Pay for your porn. Yes, PAY. 

OnlyFans, FanCentro, AVNStars, and so many more (SO. MANY. MORE.) sites like these are subscription based, and are run specifically by the porn stars that you're watching in the actual clips / photos. While it may cost to get off, definite peace of mind is given when you know you're not engaging with unethical porn sites that can be extremely degrading to women. 

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If you don't want to pay, turn to ethical porn sites.

Bellesa.co is an incredibly handy option for those looking for a way to get off without feeling guilty afterwards. 

The self-described feminist site is able to offer free soft porn and hardcore clips around five to 10 minutes long, and it's made possible through their Partnership Network. They also offer paid subscriptions, as well as erotica, health articles, and an online sex shop.

I masturbated less (much less). 

While only you can determine how often you masturbate - depending what your schedule allows for, and what feels good - it's important we consider whether we actually want to masturbate before we actually... yanno, masturbate. 

Doing it because you have an extra 20 minutes before work, or because you're home alone, or because you do it every single night - and not because you are genuinely horny - had an extremely negative impact on me. 

Instead of masturbating more often than not, I pushed myself to do it way less often - all so I could enjoy the actual process more. 

Believe me, it works. 

I began to look for fulfilling intimacy over immediate satisfaction.

Sex just to have sex, and masturbating just to masturbate, can be incredibly unhealthy for your libido and desire for intimacy in the long run. 

So, I decided for myself I would instead search for more fulfilling sexual encounters that were based on passion and genuine connection rather than immediate satisfaction. 

It can feel like it's harder to find, but it is always worth it.

Remember, only you can decide what is best for you. While research can give us answers - it can't tell us everything.

Feature Image: Getty / Mamamia.