OnlyFans Is Great for People’s Sex Lives

A new study found that watching adult content on OnlyFans can help people explore and learn their sexual preferences, among other benefits.
MelRose Michaels (via Instagram @melrosemichaels)

A new study has confirmed what sex workers already know: OnlyFans can teach you a lot about sex.

The study, published in the journal of Sexuality & Culture last month, found that watching adult content on OnlyFans can help people explore and learn their sexual preferences, better communicate sexually with their partners, access information about sexual health, and explore sexuality and gender identity.


Researchers surveyed 425 OnlyFans users about the effects they perceive the platform has on their sex lives. About 90 percent of respondents said they learned something about their sexual practices through their use of OnlyFans. About 90 percent of respondents also said they learned more about their own sexual preferences and about sexual health. 

The platform also inspired viewers to try new things sexually, including sex toys, phone sex, creating their own sexual content, and exploring fetishes, the study found. Only about 7 percent of people said they didn’t try anything new as a result of their OnlyFans use.

“This is a lot of what sex workers have been screaming for ages,” adult content creator MelRose Michaels, who’s on OnlyFans and boasts 356,000 followers on Instagram, told VICE News. “Sex workers provide important roles in society, for education, for companionship, and so much more.”

“When talking to an adult creator who's clearly not ashamed to explore their sexuality, especially on display for others to enjoy, it as a byproduct makes the viewer at ease to open up and discuss their own,” said Michaels, who also founded adult creator education company Sex Work CEO. “We are already being brave, so they are compelled to be brave as well.”

Sex and sex work still have a lot of stigma surrounding them, and politicians continue to tighten the dragnet around how the industry operates—despite the fact that most people watch porn. A Utah senator seemingly (and unrealistically) tried to ban porn, legislators in Arkansas and seven other states are trying to make it necessary for porn consumers to provide their IDs, and some states have even tried to dub porn a “public health crisis.” (Researchers have found that pathologizing porn use is antithetical to public health.)


But as the new study—and industry professionals—point out, sex workers help their clients access sex education that many people can’t access anywhere else, including conversations around consent and sexual preferences, especially as politicians continue to legislate away sex education in schools. 

“The main experience my fans have been outspoken about was how to communicate to their partner about the things they want sexually,” Michaels said. “As a society, when you deem those conversations immoral or inappropriate, you tend to not develop the language to express yourself in those ways effectively. I've helped a lot of my fans navigate how to put what they want into words that communicate effectively to their partners because first I needed them to communicate it effectively to me.”

Michaels said she also models what sexy and healthy consent looks like.

“In sexting sessions in OnlyFans DMs, I incorporate sexy ways of confirming consent so they understand how to. I check in with fans through these sessions to make sure they feel good about what's happening. Those skills become a lost art in a society where you can't speak openly about sex,” Michaels said.

The benefits of engaging with sex workers likely extend beyond OnlyFans to other platforms, industry professionals told VICE News.

“A lot of the stuff that happens happens in the DMs, and it happens not just on platforms like OnlyFans but phone and sexting services like Niteflirt and SextPanther,” said Mike Stabile, the director of public affairs with the Free Speech Coalition, a trade association for workers in the adult industry. “There are a lot of people who feel like this is the only place I can talk about my desires: I can’t talk about my fetishes with my family or friends, but here is a creator, here is a performer who does this, who doesn't feel ashamed of it.”

According to Stabile, the responses in the OnlyFans study probably partly come from people who see themselves reflected among content creators and are able to safely and comfortably explore their own sexuality. 

“I’m not just consuming a piece of content and saying that’s what turns me on, but I can have an interaction and talk about it with someone who understands me,” Stabile said.