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Cigarettes after sex a cultural ritual that’s helps our bodies realign



Dr Jonathan Redelinghuys says a cigarette after sex can be a form of rebellion, a sense of sophistication and a measure of relaxation.

Cigarettes after sex have become a cultural ritual. Whatever you watch and wherever you consume your media, it’s inevitable that someone, at some point in the narrative, will light up a smoke after some love-making.

And while everyone knows that smoking isn’t exactly healthy, cigarettes after sex have been romanticised in every way possible. It represents a momentary pause between the intensity of intimacy and the return to everyday life. It’s almost as if it is the tool to cut a scene. And in real life it’s not very different, except that vapes have replaced cigarettes in some cases.

Psychologist Dr Jonathan Redelinghuys of Medicare24 said that at its essence, the appeal of having a cigarette after sex extends beyond the physical act to encompass a complex a measure of psychological complexity. “This ritual serves as a behavioural marker, symbolising the transition from heightened arousal and vulnerability to a state of normalcy. It’s a moment of contemplation and intimacy, offering a psychological ‘full stop’ after the physical and emotional period of sexual activity,” he said.

A cigarette after sex, in this context, is lent several cultural meanings from rebellion, a sense of sophistication and a measure of relaxation. “This is where its psychological allure stems from,” said Dr Redelinghuys, “it acts as a form of celebration or validation of the intimate experience.”

Nicotine is a drug, which cigarettes and vapes deliver to your system. “It stimulates dopamine release, a neurotransmitter linked to pleasure and reward, and it makes the cigarette after sex particularly enticing,” he said.

“Following the exertion and emotional investment of sex, the body wants to realign and return to balance, and nicotine delivers mood-elevating and calming effects.”

ALSO READ: Has vaping replaced the sexy smoker?

Smoking or vaping, with deep breaths in and out can mimic relaxation techniques which, in turn, adds to the sense of calm after sex.

And because the idea of a cigarette after sex has been drummed into people through literature and media for so long, it also evokes a sense of comforting nostalgia.

“But it’s not healthy,” said Dr Redelinghuys, warning against the long-term health risks that are associated with smoking, such as heart disease, cancer, and respiratory issues, which far outweigh any momentary psychological or physical benefits. He said that vaping is cut from the same cloth.

ALSO READ: Could vaping be a source of stress for young people?

Substitutes for nicotine delivery might not cut the mustard for lovers. “It is doubtful that applying a nicotine patch after a steamy session would hold the same kind of appeal as lighting up,” he said. “But people have a need to ritualise after-sex moments, we need markers that define life’s moments, and intimacy counts as an important marker, no matter how often it occurs.”

“It’s likely that as society moves toward a more health conscious and wellness driven approach to life, that eventually rituals like a cigarette after sex will change. But for now, it is difficult to imagine eating a sesame seed snack after coitus,” he said. “Technology will likely introduce an alternative soon enough that will eventually replace a ritual that will replace a cigarette after smoking.”

“Humanity has an ingrained desire for ritual. We need it to edit together the scenes of our journey through life. The challenge is to try and keep it to healthy rituals,” he said.

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