Can reading erotica improve your sex life?

Is indulging in erotic content good or bad for your sex life?

woman sitting in bed reading a book

Is reading erotica or indulging in pornographic content really that bad?

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  • Erotica is defined as any type of art that is meant to cause sexual ideation or arousal. The main difference between erotica and pornography is that the former is seen as "art that has a sexual aspect."
  • While there are many different misconceptions about the consumption of erotic or pornographic content, many studies on this topic prove it may not be as harmful as you think.
  • Erotic literature can allow you to become more comfortable in your sexuality, communicate easier with your partner and may even impact your ability to orgasm.

Erotica is defined as any type of art that is meant to cause sexual ideation or arousal. The main difference between erotica and pornography is that the former is seen as "art that has a sexual aspect", whereas the latter is seen as something that exists solely to create sexual excitement with not much else to offer.

The two most common forms of erotica include:

  • Written erotica (short stories, novellas, etc)
  • Audio erotica (audio content with sexual themes)

Common misconceptions about written erotica

Concept of confused woman

There are many myths and misconceptions about erotic content...what are the facts?

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MYTH: Women like erotica more than men.

While it's a generalization that women prefer erotica and men prefer visual porn, this is not always the case. This 2016 study examined the effects on both men and women who read BDSM themed erotica. The findings of this study proved that there was no difference in the extent to which the erotic stories aroused men and women.

MYTH: Erotica (and pornography in general) are toxic to relationships.

This is a widely spread myth about all things pornography. Some people are wary of erotic content because they assume it will hurt the intimacy and sexual desire felt in their relationship. However, according to Regain, a popular couples counseling service, reading erotic literature can help get couples into the mood.

This 2018 study suggests whether porn hurts your relationship depends on how your partner feels about you consuming pornographic/erotic content.

"For men who are more accepting of pornography, more pornography use is associated with more relationship satisfaction; however, for men who are less accepting of pornography, more pornography use is associated with less relationship satisfaction."

MYTH: Erotica is vulgar and crude.

There is a large stereotype about erotic content being vulgar and crude, however, this is not always the case. There are many different kinds of written erotica available - the stories can range from romantic and subtle to aggressive and outrageous. Not all erotica is created to stun and surprise - some erotica is created to help the reader explore parts of their sexuality they've never experienced before.

MYTH: Enjoying erotica is bad.

There are some studies that prove this to be quite false. This 1998 study examined the effects of bibliotherapy (reading therapy) on patients with orgasm disorders (sexual dysfunctions), and found that "the available evidence warrants the recommended use of self-help books for sexual dysfunction, but only after proper assessment."

While erotica may not quality as "self-help" to some, for others, reading and exploring sexuality through the written word is in fact a form of self-help.

How reading erotic literature can improve your sex life

man and woman in bed reading erotica book together

Reading erotica can be relaxing and boost your confidence, allowing you to communicate better with your partner about your sexual needs.

Photo by Dmytro Zinkevych on Shutterstock

Reading relaxes you. Relaxation makes sex easier and more enjoyable.

Stress can impact your health in numerous ways, including lowering your sex drive. One of the best ways to relieve daily stress and overcome anxiety is to lose yourself in a good book.

According to the World Literacy Foundation, reading has been found to decrease blood pressure, lower your heart rate, and reduce stress. In fact, as little as 6 minutes of reading can slow down your heart rate and improve your overall health.

Reading erotica can rid society of stigmas around sexual satisfaction.

According to ABC Life, reading erotica may just be a key to unlocking your sex drive. Kate Cuthbert, a program manager at Writers Victoria, explained that, "erotica reflects our sexuality in a positive way, unlike in mainstream society where a lot of it can be repressed."

Erotic literature can help you discover your sexuality and feel more comfortable.

Not only does it relieve stress and anxiety (which can often be barriers to an active and enjoyable sex life), but it can also help you navigate your own sexuality and express yourself in a healthier way.

"Romance novels are as much about a woman falling in love with herself—in addition to the adventures, true love, and fantastic sex," says romance novelist Maya Rodale.

Much erotic literature highlights consent and safe sex.

While there are some erotic stories that don't discuss things like birth control, safewords, and consent, these themes are becoming more and more popular among up-and-coming erotica authors.

Erotica can be a safe place to express sexuality and explore curiosities and it can also promote communication and conversations between partners around safe, healthy, vibrant sex that all parties involved are happy with.

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Jaimee Bell is the author of "All the Dirty Little Things," a six-story erotica collection now available on Amazon.

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