I had no idea until last night. But apparently they’ve been doing it for a while: Scientists are showing porn to pandas.

Because they are in captivity, the pandas haven’t learned a thing about mating, so the scientists have decided to show them what they’re missing. You can imagine, I’m sure, where I’m headed with this.

Sure, there’s lots of sex in the media — film, television, the Internet. But once you get home and into your real life, it’s all, "What’s for dinner?" and "Where’s my dry cleaning?" and "Daddy, can you read me another story?" — which is great for family life. Not so much when it comes to the sex life.

It can be very hard to get in the mood when you’re covered in spit-up and knee-deep in laundry. Not to mention that your spouse, who is getting the kids all wound-up while you’re trying to get them bathed and to bed, might not be your favorite person right at that minute, let alone someone whose bones you want to jump.

So, it’s no wonder that people, too, have trouble mating in captivity. Statistics are hard to trust when it comes to all things sex. But there are enough magazine cover headlines ("10 Ways to Get Your Man in the Mood") and books lining the self-help shelves ("Bring Back the Fire") to make me believe that there’s trouble in river city.

Seems to me, it might not be a bad idea to take a page from the notebooks of panda scientists. Pandas are responding very well to the audiovisual materials that are being shared with them. I don’t see any harm in a little inspiration of the human variety. It could be as simple as a sexy mainstream movie like "Mr. and Mrs. Smith."

Or…how about something a teeny bit naughtier?

Now, hear me out. Not all porn is bad. In fact, some of it is downright impressive. And if you can find the kind of films that are right for you, they can prove to be very…um…well, helpful. Companies like Digital Playground and Vivid are turning out films with actual — gasp — storylines and special effects of the non-sexual variety. "Pirates 2" and "Fallen" are good examples.

But let me caution you. People porn, unlike panda porn, should not be considered at all instructional. I repeat: people porn is not the stuff how-to’s are made of. There are specific X-rated films that are designed to be educational, but your everyday, run-of-the-mill variety is for two purposes and two purposes alone — to get you hot and to get you back in the saddle.

I’m not suggesting that you watch it all day long or mortgage the house to join every online site known to man or that you should need it in order to have sex with your partner. I’m saying that putting on a favorite flick after a long day when sex is the furthest thing from your mind, just might bring it right to the forefront.

It works for the pandas …

Jenny Block is a freelance writer based in Dallas, Texas. She is the author of "Open: Love, Sex, and Life in an Open Marriage." Her work appears in "One Big Happy Family" edited by Rebecca Walker and "It’s a Girl: Women Writers on Raising Daughters" edited by Andrea Buchanan. Visit her Web site at www.jennyonthepage.com.