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1/3 Of Young Adults Are Surprised By Real-Life Sex After Watching Porn, Study Finds

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As far as intimate interactions go, no two people or experiences are the same. But the way we learn about sex can be pretty fundamental in informing our attitudes and initial experiences. Many people's sex education was less than comprehensive and, especially for those who grew up with the internet, online porn may have filled the gap. According to a new survey, a third of young adults were surprised by what sex is like in real life because of what they’d seen in porn. As a world of free porn is only a click away, it’s hardly surprising that so many young people see it, either intentionally or by accident. However, the study by Durex suggested it can have serious, long-lasting effects.

Condom brand Durex Durex polled 1,000 people aged 18-24 to gauge their experiences with porn and sexual satisfaction. A third said they had been “surprised” by what sex was like in real life, having watched porn before becoming sexually active. One in three also said they believe watching porn has affected what they find sexually attractive in a partner. A quarter of respondents said sex in real life wasn’t as good as they expected which had impacted their confidence in the bedroom.

A spokesperson from Durex said, “among young people there’s still a question mark around what sex is or what it should be. We want to challenge the conventions that society, ourselves and others place on us to normalise what real, good sex is and can be for everyone.”

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Research conducted at the Max Planck Institute in Berlin found that watching porn could shrink a part of the brain linked to pleasure. Their study suggested that the rewards system part of the brain was smaller in people who watch more porn which could then lead to a need to watch even more graphic material to get aroused.

There also appears to be an element of shame surrounding sex, or at least a lack of confidence, as the Durex study found 45 percent of respondents said they’d feel judged if they didn't know how to take part in a sexual act or if they didn’t know what it was. A massive 64 percent of people admitted they pretended to enjoy sex more than they actually were so not to upset their partner. One in 10 said they didn’t discuss their sexual history with the person they’re with because they felt the number of people they’d slept with is too high.

“We hope that conversations about sex, STIs, orientation and consent will become more open and acceptable but understand that some young people might still find these types of conversations anxiety inducing and difficult,” said a spokesperson from Durex, “we think there’s a lot of work to do in terms of challenging conventions and enabling conversations about taboos and misconceptions to ensure that everyone feels comfortable talking openly about sex with a partner.”

While more than half of young people who spoke to Durex said they felt their sex education is “outdated”, 85 percent said they feel comfortable talking openly about sex with their partner. While it’s amazing that so many young people feel comfortable to speak about sex their formative experiences would be far more positive if they’d learnt about intimacy from school or sex educators rather than porn.