Everybody knows about the good feelings we get from having sex.
Sexual activity (and the experience of an orgasm) releases oxytocin, “the cuddle hormone,” which can make us feel excited, closer and more emotionally connected to our partner.
Nonetheless, sometimes after having sex, some people report experiencing negative emotions called “post-sex blues”.
What is “Post-Sex Blues”?
Postcoital dysphoria [sometimes called postcoital tristesse (French for sadness) or the “post-sex blues”] refers to feelings of deep sadness or agitation after consensual sex, even if the encounter was loving, satisfying, or enjoyable. That is, this term would not be applicable to the negative feelings we might feel after a regrettable one-night stand or sex that was coerced or non-consensual. Rather, postcoital dysphoria refers to feelings of sadness, irritability, agitation, anxiety, and depression that occur after having consensual sex with a partner whom we like or even love.
Who Experiences It?
Studies show that both women and men experience PCD, although it was previously thought to affect women more. But a recent study shows that about 41% of the participants reported an episode of postcoital dysphoria in their lifetime. Twenty per cent said they’d experienced it during the previous four weeks. And between 3% and 4% said it was a regular occurrence.
What Causes the Post-Sex Blues?
Unfortunately, there have not been enough scientific studies on postcoital dysphoria causes. As of now, scientists still aren’t certain why postcoital dysphoria happens, but some theories have been suggested as we currently only have a limited understanding of the underlying causes.
However, the research to date suggests that genetics in addition to personal characteristics (such as unstable emotion) and attachment style (particularly, anxious attachment and avoidant attachment) seem to play a part. It may also be that the bonding with a partner during sex is so small or intense that breaking the bond triggers sadness. It has also been found that a history of childhood sexual assault or trauma can be the cause of life-long postcoital blues in some women. Another cause could be relationship conflict may be an underlying problem.
For Your Information!
The experience of post-coital blues doesn’t have any connection to how good or bad sex was, or that something is naturally wrong with your relationship (although, of course, painful sex, or relationship problems, may trigger negative feelings after having sex with your partner).
If you or your partner is feeling sad, irritable, anxious, or depressed after having sex, you may benefit from some self-reflection and/or meeting with a counsellor or therapist to help understand what might be underlying those feelings for you. Because the situation can be challenging for both members of a couple. People with postcoital dysphoria might not know why they feel this way after intimacy and have trouble explaining it. This can make partners wonder in guilt and blame themselves for the emotional response.