flushed skin after SEX

What, exactly, does sex flush refer to?

Sex flush refers to the delightful pinkish glow that washes over your skin when you’re in the throes of arousal or orgasm.

Where does it typically show up?

The first place many of us tend to flush when tingling with all the sexy feels is the face, but the chest and back are where it’s often most prominent, usually in the way of red blotches.

If you have fair skin or are one of those adorbs peeps who blushes easily, sex flush may be even more noticeable and take up more real estate on your body.

What if it appears on the genitals — is this a sign of an STI?

It’s highly unlikely.

It’s totally normal for your genitals to change color when you’re gearing up for sex. Boners — of the penis and clit — are the result of blood rushing to the area and blood vessels dilating to accommodate it.

With all that going on, a flush of pink, red, or even purple is pretty likely and common. 

Why does this happen?

It’s part of your sexual response cycle, which is the sequence of emotional and physical changes you experience when you become sexually aroused and engage in any stimulating sexual activity. 

And by any we mean anything that turns you on, be it partnered sex, a solo sesh, or even just fantasizing.

The cycle consists of four phases, each with its own set of responses. 

The intensity of the responses, how long each lasts, and even the order they happen in can vary from person to person and from one hot rendezvous to the next.

Here’s a breakdown of each phase:

Excitement

This is the start of arousal when your heart rate and blood pressure go up, your breathing accelerates, and your nips get hard. 

Blood flow to the genitals increases, vaginas get wet, and scrotums tighten — all in sweet anticipation of what’s to come. 

This is also when the sex flush starts.

Plateau

Don’t let the name fool you — because your excitement doesn’t peak or plateau here by any means. 

It actually continues with powerful surges of pleasure that can last a few seconds to minutes. All the good stuff from the previous stage continues or increases. 

Clits become super sensitive and retract under the clitoral hood and vaginas becomes engorged with a purple hue, while boners rage and testicles draw up into scrotums. 

Orgasm

The big O gets your blood, heart, and lungs pumping at their highest rate. 

Waves of pleasure shoot through you, your muscles contract, and you feel that glorious release of sexual tension. Phew. 

This is also when the sex flush gets extra flushy and may spread over most of your body.

Resolution

You’ve come, you’re a happy camper, and your body slowly returns to its normal state. 

Swollen body parts go back to their previous size, and your skin goes back to its pre-sex color. 

You may need a nap, which is pretty common during the refractory period — aka the rest period your body needs before it can orgasm again.

Are there other noticeable effects?

It’s different for everyone.

Some people only get a rosy glow, while others experience blotches in varying shades of pink and red. Some people’s sex flush is so intense it almost looks more like a rash.

How do you know when redness is actually cause for concern?

Sex flush is temporary, and — even after an especially kickass O — it should fade shortly after you climax. It shouldn’t hurt or feel uncomfortable in any way.

If you have a rash or redness that lingers beyond a few hours, or if it’s accompanied by symptoms like itching, pain, burning, or stinging, then your redness may be caused by something else. 

Same goes for redness that affects only the genitals and hangs around more than a couple of hours after stopping whatever sexual activity was turning you on.

While an STI is unlikely to cause symptoms that fast, redness could also be caused by an allergic reaction to latex in condoms or sex toys, ingredients in lotions and lubes, and in some cases, semen.

Is there anything you can do to self-diagnose or treat it at home?

Flushed skin after sex isn’t a cause for concern and happens to most people during sexual arousal and orgasm. 

If you’re worried about it, stop what you’re doing, clear your mind of those salacious thoughts, and see if your skin goes back to normal once your arousal has passed.

If you’re feeling especially hot and bothered after a rigorous romp, your skin might stay flushed even longer — kind of like after an amazing workout. 

Rest, take a not-too-hot shower, rehydrate, and you should be fine.

When should you see a doctor?

See a doctor if the redness doesn’t fade after you’ve finished whatever sex act got you excited. Give it a few hours after stopping so it has a chance to resolve.

If your flushing is accompanied by any of the following, a trip to a healthcare provider is in order:

If you have a latex or semen allergy and are experiencing a severe allergic reaction after sex, call your local emergency services or go to the nearest emergency room. 

This goes for any symptoms of severe allergic reaction, even if you don’t think you have an allergy.

A severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) is a medical emergency that requires immediate treatment.

Signs and symptoms to watch out for:

  • trouble breathing
  • wheezing
  • chest pain or tightness
  • difficulty swallowing
  • abdominal pain or cramping
  • swelling of the face, eyes, or tongue
  • dizziness
  • heart palpitations
  • loss of consciousness
Bottom Line:

Flushed skin after sex is totally normal and happens to most people. The more intense your orgasm or your lovemaking, the more flushed you’re bound to be.  Unless you’re experiencing other concerning symptoms, there’s no need to worry. Just bask in the afterglow.

References:
Allergic to semen? (n.d.).
goaskalice.columbia.edu/answered-questions/allergic-semen-1 
Sexual response cycle. (2017).
my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/9119-sexual-response-cycle 
The sexual response cycle. (2018).
sexinfo.soc.ucsb.edu/article/sexual-response-cycle
https://www.healthline.com/health/healthy-sex/sex-flush
https://www.healthline.com/reviewers/janet-brito
https://www.healthline.com/authors/adrienne-santos-longhurst
Photo Credit: We-Vibe WOW Tech

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