Contrary to what many may believe, watching pornography can encourage a few safe sex practices. According to a study published on April 27 in the journal PLOS One, when men watch sexually explicit porn such as ones involving anal sex where a condom is used, they are less likely to engage in anal sex without using a condom as well.

“Actually, one type of pornography was associated with higher rates of condom use — men who viewed more pornography containing condom use engaged in fewer condomless anal sex encounters,” adds Eric Schrimshaw, an associate professor of Sociomedical Sciences at the Mailman School of Public Health. “Even those who took part in compulsive pornography viewing were not likely to engage in condomless anal sex.”

Nevertheless, when condoms are not used in pornography, men would still prefer to have sex without using condoms. Still, the results confirm that the concern about pornography being a bad influence, such as the bill passed by the State Assembly of Utah that state all sexually explicit media is a public health crisis, is largely unfounded.

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Porn where condoms are used encourages men to practice safe sex. Credit: Pixabay/Anqa

The 265 men with ages 18 and above who participated in the study’s online survey were men who have sex with men and watched porn in the past three months. The researchers inquired about the men’s compulsivity, frequency, and proportion of having anal sex with and without condoms.

Ninety-two percent of the men watched porn that involved condomless anal sex. Fifty-five percent said that watching this caused them to look for sex afterwards. Moreover, 48 percent of them claimed that this encouraged them to engage in riskier sex. Seventy percent acted out whatever they saw on the video.

The study is among the first ones to delve into the association between sexually explicit pornography and the rate of engaging in condomless anal sex, which can have implications towards policies regarding HIV prevention. The participants were from areas within 80 kilometres of New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington.

The researchers recruited the men on Facebook and Craigslist. Further studies are needed to confirm that sexually explicit media is a good platform to encourage safe sex behaviours.