Aftercare

Aftercare is the negotiated time after a scene or play time where you recover and take care of each other’s needs. This is also a time to reconnect to reality and re-establish roles outside the scene. Some scenes are very intense emotionally and psychologically and the Dominant may need to help the submissive unwind and recover. Dominants also need aftercare; some like a massage or sex, but at the least you should both get re-hydrated and rest.

Aftercare is an often forgotten part of the negotiation process and there are many BDSM practitioners that do not perform aftercare after a scene, believing that it is the personal responsibility of the parties involved to take care of their needs after play. It is also less common for aftercare to happen when playing in a casual once only sort of event such as a play party. This is because the Dominant and submissive are there for selfish reasons and not for a dance of power between a well connected relationship.

Often, the first thing they will need is a drink of water, followed by a trip to the toilet. Lots of tender affection, cuddling and kissing will often comfort the person and improve their mental state.

Aftercare Information From Informed Consent (now defunct)

What are Endorphins and what do they do to your body?

In 1975, Endorphins were discovered by Dr. John Hughes and Dr. Kosterlitz. Endorphins have both neurological and spinal effects. Twenty different types of Endorphins have been discovered in the nervous system. The word Endorphin is abbreviated from ‘endogenous morphine’ which means a morphine produced naturally in the body. Endorphins are renowned worldwide as anti-stress hormones that relieve pain naturally. They are secreted to remove stress or pain when you have pain or stress. In other words, they block the signal of pain to the nervous system. This being an effect that reduces the pain and causing an euphoric effect to occur.

  1. Endorphins enhance our immune system: When endorphins are secreted, they activate natural killer cells (NK cells) and thereby increase our immune system. Under stress, your immunocompetence is reduced remarkably. NK cells are likely to lose their effect under stress. NK cells, which take responsibility for the immune system by killing defective cells, also have the ability to kill cancer cells.
  2. Endorphins block the lesion of blood vessel: As the endorphins are secreted more and more, the shrunken blood vessels return to a normal state allowing blood to flow in a normal manner. Most adult disease start from clogged blood vessels. Endorphins help to improve the circulation of blood.
  3. Endorphins have anti-aging effects by removing Superoxide: The oxygen coming into the body from breathing can change into a Superoxide. This is one of the biggest enemies for humans, causing diseases and aging. Endorphins can remove this harmful Superoxide by facilitating the production of ‘SOD’ (Superoxide Dismutase). This is possible because the endorphins can keep the brain cells young and healthy. SOD is the enzyme which neutralizes the toxicity of the harmful Superoxide. Therefore endorphins have anti-aging effects.
  4. Endorphins are anti-stress hormones: The ability to cope with the stress is in proportion to the endorphins levels we have in our body. We will encounter great difficulties in removing our stress unless sufficient amounts of endorphins are released.
  5. Endorphins have a pain-relieving effect: Our nervous system secretes neuro-transmitters when it receives the signal of pain. Once the endorphins are released at that moment of pain, endorphins combine with endorphin receptors on the neuron, which hinders the first neuro- transmitters from being secreted.
  6. Endorphins help improve your memory: You can improve your memory by the help of endorphins because they can keep the brain cells young and healthy. They will help you to maintain a harmonious relationship with your colleagues. You will also be able to think creatively and have more endurance.
  7. Endorphins are mood regulators: Amongst the twenty different kinds of endorphins identified several of them have been found to be effective mood regulators.

Endorphins, when they are secreted continuously, spread to the whole body including the brain – hence the feeling of euphoria but also the ability to process pain at a different rate. Unfortunately Endorphins cannot work for a long time because our body also makes enzymes, called endorphinase, which chew up the Endorphins. This is the reason why Endorphins can stop working when a scene ends and pain can then set in. It is not an uncommon thing to take a good deal of pain in scene and then the next day find ourselves saying, “What WAS I thinking?”

What are the Adrenal Glands and what do they do to your body?

The Adrenal glands, are small, pyramid-shaped organs that secretes many important hormones. The body has two adrenal glands, one on top of each kidney. The adrenals, also called suprarenals, measure about 2 inches (5 centimeters) each in diameter. Each adrenal gland consists of a medulla (inner core) and a cortex (outer shell).

The adrenal medulla is controlled by the nervous system. Nerve signals stimulate the medulla to secrete epinephrine (also called adrenalin) and norepinephrine (also called noradrenalin) into the blood. These hormones help the body adjust to sudden stress. For example, they increase the rate and strength of the heartbeat, raise the blood pressure, and speed up the body’s energy-producing processes.

The adrenal cortex secretes many hormones, some of which are essential to life. These hormones, called corticosteroids, belong to three main groups—(1) glucocorticoids, (2) mineralocorticoids, and (3) sex hormones.

Glucocorticoids regulate the use of digested foods and help the body adapt to stress. The most important glucocorticoid is cortisol, also called hydrocortisone. The secretion of the glucocorticoids is controlled by adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH). ACTH is produced by the pituitary gland, a small organ near the base of the brain. Physicians use cortisol, and synthetic compounds that resemble it, to control inflammation.

Mineralocorticoids regulate the excretion of sodium and potassium by the kidneys. Aldosterone is the most important mineralocorticoid. Renin, a hormone secreted by the kidneys, controls the production of aldosterone. Overproduction of aldosterone causes high blood pressure in some people.

The adrenal glands produce only small amounts of sex hormones, chiefly the male sex hormones called androgens. The adrenal androgens help regulate the development of pubic hair and other early sexual characteristics in both males and females during the period just prior to puberty. (As this only occurs in this stage, it is really just an addition fact here and has nothing to do with what occurs to an adult body within the confines of a scene)

SO… Now that you know what both our adrenal glands and endorphins are and what they do to your body, it is easier to actually understand what happens during a scene and then also look at how your body (or the body of another) is reacting after a scene and to compensate for some of the negative after effects that can come about.

During a scene, our bodies push both and, in effect, our bodies are thrown out of balance because of the massive chemicals it puts there to compensate. The MOST important reason for aftercare is to assist the body in re-adjusting to its normal state. It is not healthy NOT to do that frankly.

The down sides to Endorphins and what our adrenal glands give us in scene:

The body doesn’t normally produce huge amounts of endorphins usually and even when it produces more than usual (such as when you are in scene) the endorphins will also activate opiate receptors, which is the process that allows you to process the pain easier but it can cause some other side effects as well sometimes. Opiate receptors can inhibit other things in the body aside from pain receptors – things such as seratonin.

Seratonin can affect things such as appetite, sleep, memory, learning, temperature regulation, mood, sexual behavior, cardiovascular function, muscle contraction, endocrine regulation, and, of course, depression.

It is theorized that it is the endorphins affects on the seratonin levels during scening that causes many of the after affects that need to be dealt with in aftercare and most especially could be responsible for the severity of the “drop” phenomenon some encounter anywhere from immediately after ending a scene to up to 270 hours after a scene. (Yep that is 11.25 DAYS later folks – although this is extremely rare – it has been known to happen in a few cases).

The down side to what the adrenal glands do is that it virtually STARVES your body of some things such as potassium and sodium. Also the adrenalin rush causes the body to burn fluids at a much higher rate as well so you are rapidly dehydrating yourself at the same time.

Can you see the picture of a drop now?

Reduced or inhibited serotonin levels, lowered blood sugar, potassium and sodium levels, lowered body fluids. This causes (depending on the depletion levels) lethargy, depression, muscle weakness and/or cramps, nausea, headaches, dizziness, irregular body temperature, lack of mental focus, irritability, and can lead to unconsiousness and even more severe problems.

One other thing to note (thank you my friend for pointing this out). The signs mentioned above – they are NOT solely occurring in the bottom/submissive/slave – the top/Dominant/Master expends energy in the form of both mental and physical exercise – this WILL cause much of the same things to occur in their bodies as what occurs in their partners – depending on their physical make up, the strenuousness of the scene, etc. – they may actually drop harder than their partner at times.

It is therefore important to not only be aware of what is occurring with your partner but also with you if you are the top/Dominant/Master. I have known of a few instances where a Dominant pushed themselves past where they should have gone and they collapsed after a scene.

Reading the Signs and What to Do:

The second most necessary thing for the human body is water. The first is air. Water serves a dual purpose in the body. Water in the human body is 70 percent of our muscles and 75 percent of our brains. Therefore, replenishing any reduction of water to our bodies is the first most essential thing to do after (and during) a scene.

The second benefit of water is the bodies ability to flush itself with water. The more water you push through it, the more quickly you will flush the body of those chemicals which are causing the imbalance. It will also push the nutrients you are putting into your body to replenish your losses at a faster rate as well.

So if you take nothing else away from this, take this piece, WATER – drink lots and lots of water. Even if you do nothing else, this one thing alone will reduce several of the after effects and the length of time you experience them.

From there, you need to be reading the signs. Is the person cold? Are the shaking? Are they coherent? Are they rational? What do they MOST desire? All of these questions will help you to determine the symptoms and from that you can basically determine what the body needs.

Signs of Dehydration:

sunken eyes dry or sticky mucous membranes in the mouth the skin may lack its normal elasticity and sag back into position slowly when pinched up into a fold (poor skin turgor) decreased or absent urine output (oliguria or anuria) decreased tears deep and rapid breathing delayed capillary refill with severe dehydration — lethargic or comatose

Signs of HIGH Blood Sugar:

frequent urination excessive thirst hunger fatigue blurry vision Signs of LOW Blood Sugar:

Fatigue General discomfort, uneasiness, or ill feeling (malaise) Nervousness Irritability, or even aggression Trembling Headache Hunger Cold sweats Rapid heart rate Blurry or double vision Confusion Sleeping difficulty Paleness Muscle pain Memory loss Palpitations, or feeling your heartbeat (heartbeat sensations) Hallucinations Fainting Different size pupils Dizziness The Biggest Nasty of them All

Remember that I mentioned that endorphins can affect other things in the body? There are five main chemicals that govern our brains emotional center. Opiods (endorphins), Dopamine, GABA, Serotonin and norepinephrine. The first and last I mentioned in the first post. But here is the real kicker to all of this.

Opiods start the process – if those levels are off they trigger the others. So high levels of endorphins, lowered levels of the others usually, and when the endorphins are dissipated by enzymes, those lowered levels will cause anxiety, depression, and lots of other icky feelings to remain in place. Thus sometimes causing severe sub and top drop.

The really bad thing is that your body can get caught in a loop almost with this and if it is not corrected, it can go on for days and in very severe cases weeks, months and even years. This means that these signs really need to be watched for carefully. Especially in those that already suffer from bouts of depression and/or anxiety.

So how do you Treat the symptoms?

As stated dehydration is the easiest to treat once it hits but the best way to deal with this is not to let it occur in the first place frankly. Keeping fit, eating right, drinking the proper amounts of fluids each day all lend themselves to have LESS problems after a scene.

Still sometimes we stress our bodies to the max in scenes (that is sort of the point sometimes I think) and then the after effects can be anywhere from minor to very serious when we do that. Therefore knowing how to read the signs and what to do when they come is just as important.

Know the difference between high and low blood sugar – feeding sugar when a person is spiked on sugar can cause them serious harm. Most scenes though will result in lowered blood sugar levels but do not assume that is the case with everyone – diabetics and hypoglycemics can react exactly the opposite sometimes. So know their medicals before playing with them (that goes BOTH ways folks).

Low blood sugar can be easily treated with both natural and raw sugars. The body will normally respond within 20 minutes or so – if it doesn’t you are probably suffering from additional problems on top of lowered blood sugars.

Dehydration will often cause the body to be lacking in potassium and calcium so eating things with salt like crackers, salted nuts, preztels help. Bananas and Strawberries are high in potassium so they are excellent fruits to have on hand after scening (or even during). High potassium drinks and smoothies with bananas in them are beneficial.

The body is going to want to balk at eating for the most part normally, but small portions will usually go in and stay in.

Potassium is slow to return to the body so it will normally take 24 to 48 hours for the symptoms – muscle cramps and charlie horses in the extremities (low end), nausea and runny bowel movements (medium end), body cramps, vomiting, diarreaha (sp?) (high end) – to dissipate and your body to return to normal. HINT: Many times cases of food poisoning – are actually severe irregularities with Potassium levels. Course food poisoning can cause depletion of Potassium so it is difficult to tell which is actually occurring while it is occurring.

Sleep helps give the body time to adjust itself but get that water into you first. Even an hour will help usually.

And where do the cuddles and such come into all of this? That is the area that deals with stress. When you scene you put your body into stress (both of you do basically). THAT is where the body reacts and your neurotransmitters go all wonky and that affects all five of the neurotransmitters and so it is necessary to break that cyclical thing your body will do when this occurs.

Hugs, laughter, orgasms (yep they are NOT just enjoyable they are GOOD for you too), human touch, all of those things aid in breaking that cyclical thing that keeps you in a lethargic and/or depressed state. Other things are up to you – what tends to make you happy – or even just calms you when you need to calm down – that is what the key is, what brings you up or balances you when you are down or anxious. Think about those things and plan to access them within the next few days after a scene.

External Resources

Videos

  • Masterhook’s Aftercare
  • Ask Faete Question 7: Aftercare
  • Aftercare
  • Aftercare: Using a Surrogate (Kink Academy; affiliate) - Since everyone’s aftercare needs are different and both tops and bottoms need aftercare, it follows that they may not always be able to provide aftercare for each other. Lucky Albatross presents a solution in this clip: using a different person who is better equipped and can be trusted to give the aftercare that is needed for either party. She talks about how best to communicate and provide for the different needs and also some strategies in case you have to do without.

Reference Material

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One response to “Aftercare”

  1. justanotherjason

    Being new to BDSM it was common sense how important after care was for my sub on a pathological standpoint, I did not realize the physical or medical factors as well. Good read!

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