A Guide to Meaningful Aftercare

A Guide to Meaningful Aftercare

You wouldn’t have sex without foreplay. So why have sex without aftercare?

 

For as long as modern kink culture has existed, aftercare has held a rightful position as a non-negotiable staple within the scene. But as studies around sexual wellbeing continue to grow, its reign has begun to extend into all kinds of play, from the most vanilla to the most taboo.

 

Essentially, aftercare is the practice of making your partner feel nurtured and appreciated after sex. Though this usually includes cuddling, talking, and physical re-regulation, aftercare is different for everyone. So, it’s important to take the time to talk your feelings through with your partner, and figure out exactly what it is that you need in order to feel looked after.

Why do we need aftercare?

Back in 1979, J. Halpern and M. Sherman were some of the first to position what they called ‘afterplay’ as key to intimacy. Ever since, researchers have continued to investigate how behaviors immediately following sex can affect how you feel about your relationship with your partner, and your sex life on the whole.


The resounding conclusion for almost all of these studies is that aftercare is make-or-break when it comes to sexual satisfaction.

Good sex is like a drug. It can fill our bodies with dopamine, the ‘feel-good hormone’, and oxytocin, the ‘love hormone’ known to decrease stress levels and promote bonding behaviors. Good aftercare can help ensure all parties keep riding the high - but poor aftercare can lead to a nasty comedown.


For example, a lack of aftercare has been widely connected to experiences of Postcoital Dysphoria (also sometimes referred to as Post-Nut Clarity). Symptoms of PCD commonly include feelings of sadness, anxiety, agitation or aggression after orgasm which can last between five minutes and two hours. But by far one of the most concerning aspects of PCD is just how common it is. A 2015 study by the National Library of Medicine found that 46% of women have experienced PCD at least once, whilst a similar study in 2019 found that 41% of men had experienced PCD at least twice.


Thankfully, PCD usually has a relatively simple remedy - talking to your partner, listening to your body, and practicing better aftercare can help alleviate your symptoms, and give you an overall improved sexual experience.

So - how can I practice better aftercare?

Practicing thoughtful and effective aftercare is all about communication. Try asking your partner what they need after sex - are they thirsty? Would they like to cuddle? Or do they perhaps need a minute to themselves? Allow them the space to feel their emotions, and let yourself do the same.


It’s also important to make sure that your partner feels like a priority. A quickie before work can be fun, but leaving your partner naked and alone as you run out of the door to avoid being late is not. Making sure your partner feels respected should be your primary concern.


Although there’s no set way to aftercare, many people use similar strategies to establish a healthy post-sex routine. Here’s 10 ideas for aftercare which will boost your sex life and create a healthier environment for all parties involved.

10 Ways to Aftercare

  1. Have a cuddle - this reduces stress, regulates your heart rate, and releases oxytocin to promote healthy bonding
  2. Shower together - hot water can help your muscles to relax, and helping each other reset by getting clean is the perfect antidote to messy play
  3. Rehydrate - this helps replenish any fluids lost during sex, and can improve your blood circulation whilst also enhancing your mood
  4. Eat together - this helps to restore lost energy and re-regulate your body
  5. Tend to any injuries - especially after engaging in any form of BDSM, one or more parties may find themselves with minor injuries such as cuts or burns. It’s important to help your partner recover in order to establish mutual respect
  6. Discuss what you liked/ disliked - this can help establish healthy boundaries within your relationship, especially if you tried something new, such as a new kink or sex with a new partner
  7. Give massages - this can help to promote healthy bonding and regain a sense of calmness. You can level up your massages by using the bestselling Amelie Palm Vibrator, a perfect tool for muscle relaxation both in and out of sex
  8. Get cozy - changing into comfy clothes and settling into bed can help you relax, as well as helping you to re-regulate your body temperature. It could also include changing your bedsheets, an essential after a messy session
  9. Watch a film together - sometimes, what you need might be a low-effort way to spend time together. Watching a film removes any pressure to quickly recover from the sex and allows you to just chill out
  10. Allow yourself to cry - crying isn’t always a bad thing! Sex is when we are at our most vulnerable - it can be an emotional experience for many people, and you shouldn’t feel embarrassed about feeling your emotions!

Ultimately, despite what we may have learnt in toxic discourses surrounding sex, being good in bed is not about being kinky - it’s about being respectful. Aftercare is key to this, as not only will it show your partner how much you care about their wellbeing, but it might even encourage them to return for round two…

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