You've just done the deed and with any luck, you're tired. Doesn't falling back asleep sound nice? Not so fast. Go ahead and have some afterglow cuddles. Before you drift off, however, take some time to take care of yourself and precious parts.
After the Fun is Done
As the song goes – your body is a wonderland. And after every session calls for some maintenance to keep it in good shape. A couple of minutes to wash up and finish some business is all it takes to ensure your safety and well-being.
Five Things to Do After Sex
Like most things that are fun, sex is a messy affair. (Sometimes, the messier the better.) After a romp, feel free to take a little time and enjoy some post-coital bliss. But before you drift off to sleep or get dressed to go home (no judgment here!), consider doing these five activities to preserve your health.
1. Head for the Bathroom
Sex has its benefits, but sexual activity puts you at risk for a urinary tract infection, also known as a UTI. Research indicates that women are about eight times more likely to get a UTI than men. A number of factors put women at a higher risk than men for developing a UTI. Women have shorter urethra compared to men, making it easier for bacteria to make their way into a woman’s bladder. (01)
Furthermore, a woman’s urethra is closer to the anus than a man’s. This close proximity makes it more likely that bacteria like E. coli will come into contact with a woman’s urethra. Sexual activity, especially the thrusting that comes with sexual intercourse, can deliver bacteria into the urethra and bladder. Even oral sex or using a sex toy can lead to a UTI.
Urinating after sexual activity can help clear the urethra and bladder of newly introduced bacteria. To help keep the flow going, you’ll need to stay hydrated before and after sex. Drink water prior and after sexual activity to stay hydrated and flush out any microorganisms.
2. Wash Your Hands…and Other Body Parts
While you’re in the bathroom, it’s a good time to wash up. You may want to start with soaping up your hands.
Your hands end up everywhere during sex, so you don’t know what kind of microorganisms are on your palms and under your nails. To prevent the spread of infection, take the time to wash your hands with soap and water.
Since you’re cleaning your hands, you may as well cleanse your female bits also. Although taking a full shower is preferable, it’s not always practical or possible. If you can, however, make sure to wash your external genitalia and anus. There’s no need to go inside, however, and just a little warm water splash will do!
For the most part, it’s the water that’s essential for cleaning your private parts after sex. Soap is extra and a shower would be icing on the cake. If you’re going to use soap, stick with something fragrance-free and parapet-free. Soaps with fragrances, chemicals, or parabens can irritate your vulva and disrupt the pH of your vagina. Also, that area is very sensitive after sex. Using the wrong soap can lead to a painful experience.
3. Change Into Cotton
Once you’ve washed and dried, avoid donning the lace, latex, or satin that you were wearing before and during sex. In fact, avoid wearing whatever type of underwear you had on before. Opt for a clean, cotton, breathable pair instead.
No clean underwear? No worries. Go commando instead. You have permission. The key is to keep the area between your legs free of moisture. Moisture can lead to UTIs and yeast infections. So, the best ways to keep that area dry after sex is either using new cotton underwear or no underwear at all.
4. Clean Your Toys
Hopefully, if you used any sex toys, you washed them before using them. Washing them afterwards, however, is even more important. Cleaning sex toys thoroughly after every use prevents the spread of infections and STI. Most toys will have their cleaning recommendations included in the manual. Follow the instructions and dry the toys well. Also, always remember not to share your toys with others.
5. Pay Attention to Your Body
If you used a condom, you may want to take a peep at it. (Yes, this might be awkward. But it’s for the best!) In the heat of the moment, a condom can break and the people involved might be none the wiser.
A broken condom means a significant risk for pregnancy or STI due to the spread of bodily fluids. Knowing whether or not a condom ruptured gives you a head start at preventing or treating any fallout, like getting tested for an STI or obtaining a Plan B morning after pill.
Sex Comes with Health Risks
Although you don’t have to do this immediately after sex — get tested for an STI. If you develop any of the signs and symptoms listed below, see a doctor and get tested. (02)
- Sores, bumps, warts, or rashes in the pelvic region, buttocks, or thighs.
- Lower back or abdominal pain (may be sign of pelvic inflammatory disease or PID
- Pain or burning when urinating
- Abnormal bleeding
- Severe itching
- Lice or “bugs” in the pelvic region
- Unusual vaginal discharge
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), sex can also transmit diseases that aren’t categorized as traditional STIs. For example, intestinal illness that transit organisms like Giardia, E.coli, and Shigella can be passed on through sexual activity like oral sex. Activities involving the anus can transmit hepatitis A and B. (03,04)
Sex is natural and beautiful, but it does come with risks. Injuries may occur during sex that you fail to notice during the heat of the moment. Check your body for signs of pain or injury.
What NOT to Do After Sex
Now that you know the five things to do after sex, here is the one activity you should avoid — using a douche.
The vagina is self-cleaning. While it might sound practical to douche after sex, it’s really not necessary. In fact, using a douche can upset the natural pH balance within your vagina — making you more prone to infections. The best way to keep your vaginal canal clean is to allow it to do what it does naturally.
In the United States, approximately 1 in 5 women douche. Many women worry about the scent of their vagina, but a mild smell is expected. In most cases, a slight odor is not a problem. However, scented vaginal wipes, creams, powders, and lotions can disrupt the pH balance in your genital area and leave the area prone to infections. Therefore, douching increases the risk for yeast infection or bacterial vaginosis. For people with an already active vaginal infection, douching can drive the bacteria higher into a woman’s reproductive system. As a result, infections may occur in the Fallopian tube, uterus, or ovaries and can lead to significant reproductive health issues. (05)
Taking Care of Business
You’re responsible for your beautiful body, so take good care of it. Treat your wonderland like the rare and irreplaceable jewel that it is each and every time. A few minutes after sex to maintain your health can make a world of difference for you, your body, and your partner.