Is sexual aftercare a completely new phrase for you? If so, you are not alone. Many folks are familiar with foreplay, but have never even heard of sexual aftercare. Practicing aftercare can be one of the most valuable takeaways from a sensual experience, both emotionally and physically. With this information, you can play a part in ensuring that aftercare will no longer be missed, cut short, or forgotten entirely.
What is Sexual Aftercare?
In its most simplest terms, aftercare is a post-play check-in with your partner(s). There are no universal rules for what this should look like, seeing as everyone has different needs in this regard.
The reason why this check-in is so important, especially after a sexual encounter, is to discuss what types of pleasure you enjoyed, or didn’t enjoy, so as to enhance your future sexual encounters. Aftercare is a ritual that can look different for everyone involved.
Engaging in aftercare is typically a concept most familiar to folks who take part in BDSM, though anyone can benefit from it. BDSM is an umbrella term for bondage and discipline, domination and submission, and sadism and masochism.
Aftercare is a healthy way for partners to maintain feelings of closeness within a relationship and, in addition, can help regulate the emotions and chemicals that are released post sexual encounter. During sex, our body releases chemicals such as dopamine, prolactin, and serotonin. Aftercare is a way to keep your body maintaining that high as those chemicals dissolve.
Think about eating too much sugar – there is typically a crash afterwards. This crash can be similar to the rush of emotions after a sexual experience. There is a concept called “the post sex blues,” otherwise known as postcoital dysphoria. Think about engaging in aftercare being like taking care of any other need that you may have. This can help you to experience a healthier, more fulfilling sex life.
How Can Aftercare Improve Intimacy?
Sex and intimacy have the potential to feel like a vulnerable act, so aftercare is a way that you can show up for your partner(s) and provide genuine care and support. Below are some ways that aftercare can help improve intimacy within your relationship:
- Provide feelings of safety and support – Have you ever felt sad or felt like crying after sex? Knowing what you need after a sexual encounter can help to alleviate these sad feelings. You might also use aftercare to discuss if adding additional elements of safety, such as safe words, are necessary.
- To help you feel less alone after a sexual encounter – Aftercare is just a physical way of showing your partner(s) that you are not taking them for granted. After each sexual encounter, you can feel more connected to your partner in a different way.
- Enhancing emotional and intimate bonds – Most people feel good when their partner cares for them. Sharing and validating positive emotions for one another and increasing communication can increase closeness within any type of relationship.
- Relieve underlying sexual shame – Due to an oftentimes sex-negative society, some negative messages and feelings of shame may arise around sex. It is no fault of your own. Being cared for after sex could minimize any feelings of shame you may be experiencing.
- Aftercare can help all parties involved feel more grounded – Aftercare can allow for partners to feel safe and supported. Plan ahead of time that you will take as much time as you need to process how you’re feeling after your next sexual encounter.
We want to make absolutely clear that you can still have casual sex with no strings attached (if that is what you wish) while engaging in aftercare techniques. Aftercare is a technique any persons can employ to care for their individual and their sexual partners’ sexual health and wellness.
4 Ways You Can Practice Sexual Aftercare with Your Partner
As previously stated, there is no right or wrong way to engage in aftercare. It is completely and entirely up to the individual’s particular needs, wants, and desires following any given sexual encounter. Aftercare can look like, but is not limited to the four C’s:
- Communication, communication, communication – This can be as simple as verbally checking in with your partner. You may want to check in on what felt good, what didn’t feel good, but also what can be done next time to enhance the sexual experience even further.
- Cuddling – This can include sensual touch, stroking, and laughter. The senses can be utilized to help enhance mindfulness. Physical touch can be another way to help feel grounded. This can be done through gentle massages, spooning, gentle touching, and more.
- Cleaning up together – This can be done through many different approaches. It is no secret that sex has the potential to be messy. You can suggest rehydrating or even taking a bath or shower together.
- Check in with yourself – If not the most important aspect of any sexual experience, society has socialized us to feel guilty about taboo subjects (especially surrounding sexual excitors and women’s pleasure). Tend to yourself as you would check in with a friend or loved one. Are you feeling safe? Are you feeling happy with your sexual experiences?
Especially if engaging in BDSM sex play, aftercare is important to help bridge the gap between the intensity of the role and mindset of specific scenes to the transition of reality. Despite the sex being vanilla or kinky, aftercare can still be an essential part of your sexual encounters.
If getting started in implementing aftercare into your sex life seems intimidating or you don’t know where to start, working with a Certified Sex Therapist can help guide you through the process.
With communication being an essential part of aftercare, not only can it be provided after a sexual encounter, but also before and during as well. By working to create this sense of safety in your sexual settings, not only are you working to improve your sex lives, but also your mental health.