fbpx The Importance of Aftercare in a BDSM Session

Sex - Exploration | June 25, 2021, 3:42 CDT

The Importance of Aftercare in a BDSM Session
Make sure you have a plan for what happens later.
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Photography by David Heisler

There is no shame in indulging in new experiences in the bedroom. Whether you want to dress up or be tied up, never stop exploring what turns you on.

While some people assume they'll be viewed as "depraved" or "dangerous" if they express their interest in BDSM, this sexual power play is much more common than you might think. In a 2017 study published in the National Library of Medicine, about 20 percent of the 2,021 adults polled said they enjoyed tying up others or being tied up, and about 30 percent liked being spanked.

But before you run out to your local sex store to stock up on handcuffs and whips, you need to talk with your partner about a critical BDSM step that most people don't think to prepare for: aftercare.

Why is aftercare so important?

Aftercare is the super-intimate moments you and your partner share after a hot-and-heavy BDSM session. It's the time to unwind from your sexual high, recover physically and emotionally, and cater to each other's needs. Certain types of BDSM can be psychologically and physically demanding, so this post-sex wind-down ritual is critical in order to resolve tension and get proper rest.

Sexual aftercare is vital in order for you and your partner(s) to effortlessly transition from the world of BDSM back into real life. Since BDSM typically involves a dom/sub relationship, intentionally putting high responsibility on one party while making the other (seemingly) powerless, it's important to properly redistribute the sense of agency afterward. All parties go through a lot during a BDSM sex session.

Whether it involves bondage, mental or physical lashes, or super-strict rules, the sheer intensity of it all requires a come-down period. Participants might suffer from postcoital dysphoria, which is when somebody can feel anxiety and sadness after otherwise amazing consensual sex. These lows are referred to as "drops" in the BDSM community. This is why it's essential to tend to both your physical needs and headspace after a BDSM scene.

Moreover, sexual aftercare helps to soothe your nervous system and return it to its resting state. During a BDSM session, the adrenaline coursing through your body may trigger a fight-or-flight response. Aftercare allows your brain to relax. Think of sexual aftercare like a cooldown from a vigorous workout.

And don't think sexual aftercare is just for submissives. Doms benefit, too, as they can feel just as raw and vulnerable as their partners after a scene. Aftercare can help alleviate these negative emotions.

Types of sexual aftercare

Different people prefer different styles of aftercare, which is part of why it's so important to have a thorough discussion with your partner beforehand. They could find particular value in:

  • Cuddling: Snuggling boosts intimacy and makes both participants feel secure and safe. The act helps you release the hormone oxytocin, which decreases stress.
  • Snacks and rehydration: It's important to stay properly hydrated after sex and drink plenty of water. A postcoital snack can also be beneficial to soothe any shakiness and balance any low blood sugar problems brought on by vigorous activity.
  • Addressing minor injuries: Albeit that the scene is consensual, any BDSM disciplines have the potential for bodily harm, from rope burns to lashes from a whip to plenty more. Be sure to immediately disinfect, bandage and otherwise treat any areas that have been injured.
  • Napping: Enjoying a brief snooze with your partner can help each of you wake up feeling rested and rejuvenated. Sleeping and sex both boost your health and wellness.

Does everyone need sexual aftercare?

While aftercare is an essential part of BDSM sexual encounters, less kinky people may also want to consider this wind-down routine.

Sex is physically demanding and intense for anyone, and it never hurts to pay a little extra care and attention to your own body and emotions, plus your partner's. Every participant deserves to walk away from a sexual experience feeling calm, confident and happy.

The bottom line

If you're new to the world of BDSM, it's important to talk to your partner about not only your boundaries and expectations but also your sexual aftercare needs. Aftercare helps to avoid the post-sex blues and makes you feel more connected to your partner. A 10-minute (or longer) cuddle session can make or break an amazing BDSM scene.

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