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What is aftercare?

What is aftercare?

Aftercare is a broad term used to describe ways in which you and your partner(s) take care of each other after a sexual encounter. The term originated in the BDSM community, likely because aftercare is especially vital after intense scenes or encounters. The term has recently entered the mainstream and people of all sexual proclivities are starting to be more thoughtful and intentional about aftercare. Aftercare shouldn’t be thought of as a chore. Like foreplay, it’s a regular part of a positive sexual encounter. So, what does it look like? And how do you do it?

If you’re sexually active, chances are you have at some point participated in some form of aftercare, maybe without even realizing it. Aftercare can look a lot of different ways, and can include both physical and mental/emotional care for your partner(s). Here are some helpful tools you could use to build your aftercare routine:

Physical: Snuggle, give or receive a massage, rub your partner’s back, get your partner some water or a snack, shower together, give your partner forehead or cheek kisses, or any other sort of comforting physical touch. Peeing after sex (for those with female genitalia) may help prevent UTIs, as well. 

Mental/emotional: Check in with your partner and ask how they’re doing, talk about the sex you just had (this can be a relaxing and sexy way to feel close to your partner), give your partner some positive reinforcement (for example: “when you did _____ it felt so good” or “you’re so hot when you _____”), spend quality time with your partner (you could watch a movie or a show or put on a playlist and lay in bed), or take a nap together.

Only you and your partner(s) know what the best kind of aftercare is for you. Communication is key, when in doubt, ask your partner(s) what would feel good to them. Remember, both partners might want/need aftercare, not just the partner who bottomed (or was receiving sex). Aftercare may be especially important if you or your partner has experienced some sort of sexual violence, as even the most gentle sex can be retraumatizing. Aftercare is also very important after rough sex, as “it can help support people in any hormonal drops that can occur after such an intimate or intense experience.” 

Aftercare is just a technical term for something that you may have already experienced. Still, it’s a very important part of sex and it can be useful to have some language and tools on hand when it comes time.


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