For the past 10 years, Violet Blue, sex columnist for The San Francisco Chronicle and author of The Smart Girl's Guide to Porn, has reviewed thousands of adult films and websites for her readers.
Violet says women who are looking to spice things up need to know the difference between porn and erotica.
"Porn is something that is a graphic sexual image that conjures up an animalistic reaction in you. You like it or you don't," she says. "Erotica also is graphic sexual imagery, but it has an extra component or several extra components that resonate with the viewer—be it artistic, be it passionate, be it something that emotionally engages you, be it something that parlays into a fantasy that you have about sexuality or the way that you relate to the people on screen."
If you're overwhelmed or intimidated by porn, Violet suggests a little online exploration. "The Internet has really made it possible for the average woman to peruse porn in safety and on her own terms," she says. "Women can engage with other women about porn online, as well."
What's best for beginners? Get Violet's film recommendations in an excerpt from The Smart Girl's Guide to Porn.
Violet says you should think of erotica as a tool in a woman's sexual arsenal. "It can be as reliable as a woman's vibrator," she says.