What is aftercare?
Aftercare is an English word that could be translated very literally as “taking care after”. After what? Not after a sunburn or a bad flu. Neon. It's more after a BDSM session or, why not, after a more vanilla cuddly moment.
“The aftercare, it's an English word that describes the post-session BDSM practices where we will take care of the submissive person, ”explains sexologist Catherine Desjardins, who specializes in alternative sexualities, among other things.
But you don't have to like whips or handcuffs to be interested in aftercare, believes Myriam Daguzan Bernier, the sex therapist behind the Instagram page La tête dans le cul: “If we installed the aftercare in any relationship, there are many things that wouldn't go wrong and there are important conversations that would happen.”
OK, but what is it, exactly?
The aftercare can be whatever you want. In BDSM circles, people tend to communicate their needs in advance, since not everyone has the same ones.
< p>There are people who will prefer to receive food and water, others will want caresses and enjoy a tender moment. There are also people who just prefer to have peace and be in their own bubble. Still others will want to discuss the scene.
Catherine Desjardins, sexologist
In fact, the idea is simply to give yourself time and space to come back to yourself and let the tension go down.
According to some research, a host of hormones and neurotransmitters come into play during a BDSM scene. Testosterone, cortisol, endorphin, dopamine, adrenaline, norepinephrine, oxytocin, melatonin, endocannabinoids… the highprovided can be so intense that some people simply can't stand up, hence the importance of taking care of it.
And vanilla sex in all that?
Much like consent arrived in the BDSM world long before it was understood by the rest of the population, aftercare might be relevant to people with more conventional sexual practices, believe the two sexologists.
“Probably people are already doing aftercarewithout realizing it, thinks Myriam Daguzan Bernier. I saw a girl on TikTok who said that after sex she and her partner play video games together. It’s time to relax. It can also be many other things: a massage, a dinner… something so that you don't go back to your daily life right away.”
In his opinion, the aftercarecan also be especially interesting for people who experience the “post-sex blues”, also called “post-coital dysphoria”, i.e. a moment of depression after sexual activity, whether because it aroused strong emotions or even trauma.
A matter of communication
Whatever form the communication takes 'aftercareor the reasons for practicing it, its interest is also communicational. In BDSM, once everyone has come to their senses, those involved take a moment to reflect on the session, discuss what was good and what was not.
< p>Bringing aftercare into other types of relationships could foster this type of exchange. “I think the missing part in sex is the discussion that follows,” says Catherine Desjardins. Going back over what just happened, talking to each other to see what we liked or not, discussing what we can do differently next time… It lacks communication, whereas in BDSM, that's what is put forward.”
Myriam Daguzan Bernier agrees: “The base is just : let's communicate! People are embarrassed to talk about sex, but it's like anything. If you don't say what you want, others won't guess.”
Talking to each other more about your wants and needs also helps you not focus on pleasure of one person. After all, aftercare rhymes with equality.