The importance of aftercare
Sex Facts

The importance of aftercare

By Rebecca, 15.09.2018

The term “aftercare” is well known to the BDSM community but it should be something that extends to any kind of sexual styles and sexual activities.

Aftercare is quite simply taking care of your partner and yourself after sex. It’s about taking the time to check in with your partner, talk to them, cuddle, or other similar aftercare practices. Aftercare makes sex better for everyone.

Here’s why aftercare is important as well as some times on how to go about providing aftercare.

1. The Physical “Drop”

During sex, and particularly in BDSM scenes, there is a huge rush of endorphins and other hormones. This is one of the reasons you feel less pain during sexual activities. However, once your activities are over, your endorphins and adrenaline levels crash and this is referred to as a “drop” or a “sub-drop” if it happens to the sub after a BDSM scene. Dominant partners can also experience this, as well as people not engaging in any type of BDSM or pain-related activities. Orgasms are full of hormones and you might experience a “drop” afterwards. Sometimes this drop leads to feelings of sadness, and often can be sudden. Aftercare can help reduce the drop.

2. Postcoital Dysphoria

In 2015, a study found that nearly 46% of 230 women surveyed felt feelings of anxiety or tearfulness after sex. In 2018, a study found that this happens to some men as well. Postcoital dysphoria is used to describe feelings of anxiousness, irritability, tearfulness, and sadness that happens after sex.

Out of 1,208 men, the study revealed that 41% of participants had experienced postcoital dysphoria in the four weeks prior to the survey, while 4% they experience it on a regular basis. Feelings can range from feeling empty, feeling like they want to be left alone, and feeling like they need to distract themselves.

Scientists are still figuring out what this means, but it is said to not have anything to do with the relationship between the partners involved. People who experience postcoital dysphoria may need different kinds of aftercare. The best thing to do is ask!

2. Intimacy With One-Night Stands

Unfortunately, there is still a culture of “shame” around sexuality, and this has lead people to believe that intimacy is only for relationships. Instead of rushing out the door, into the shower, or not addressing what just happened, it is important to acknowledge that you had sexual relations, even if that partner is a one-time partner. 

Demonstrating aftercare does not mean you want to date the person, it means that you care about their wellbeing and that is never a bad thing. If it feels a bit awkward, a simple check-in asking “How was that for you” might be enough. At least it is a good place to start!

Intimacy is frowned upon during one-night stands or casual hook-ups but it shouldn’t be! Help break down the stigma of sexuality by asking your hook-up how they’re doing, complimenting them, or just cuddling. A shower together can be a nice transition that keeps your aftercare a little bit flirty.

3. It’s For All Partners

When reading about aftercare, you might notice that there is more discussion around “sub-drop.” However, it is very possible (and likely) that the dominant partner will go through a similar type of emotional drop after the session is over.

This is the same for any type of couple or threesome or moresome. Everyone involved should feel like they are being cared for after sex is over.

4. Aftercare Looks Different to Everyone

Aftercare looks different to everyone so it is important that you respect the way everyone needs to recover from a sexual moment. Sometimes people need cuddles and a quick nap. Sometimes people need food to get a sugar rush. Sometimes people need to be left alone or hop in the shower to regroup themselves.

If you’re in a relationship, you can ask your partner how they prefer their aftercare. This can definitely help reduce mixed signals if one person hops out of bed right away.

If you haven’t had an “aftercare” talk with someone, then simply check in with them that they are okay. If you’re someone who needs to be alone, explain that to your partner and then return to them after your shower, your trip to the kitchen, etc.

Aftercare is essentially just taking care of each other. If you look at it that way, there’s no reason to skip it! Talk to your partner about their needs and don’t be shy about your aftercare needs either. Maybe all the world needs is a little bit of aftercare!

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