Do you feel empty or sad after sex? You’re not alone.
Post-coital dysphoria, or post-coital tristesse, is a condition where sufferers feel tearful, sad, anxious, aggressive, agitated or generally melancholic after sex. Consensual sex.
“All of a sudden, while he was on top of me, my flight-or-flight instinct kicked in. I had to ask him to stop before tears came,” Sophie Saint Thomas – a woman who is often overcome by a deep sorrow after intimacy – wrote for Mic late last year.
Another woman, 27-year-old Jerilyn, agreed.
“Even when I was single, the post-sex depression morphed into a different shade of empty. I always attributed it to the fear of being abandoned,” she told the publication, adding: “I started to wonder if something was being taken from me every time I had sex, even though I enjoyed the act itself.”
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While nobody has really spoken about it until now, post-coital dysphoria is something that many women struggle through, including those in the Mamamia office.
“I have never known why, but I’m hit with a wave of emotion as soon as we finish,” one of my colleagues told me. “I feel needy and annoying all of a sudden.”
She wasn’t alone.
“When I was a teenager I almost always felt crap after having sex with my ex boyfriend, but I wasn’t sure if that was less to do with the sex and more the fact that we didn’t have much of an emotional connection any more,” a fellow writer explained.
A recent study undertaken by the Queensland University of Technology found that, out of 230 female participants aged between 18 and 55, almost half had experienced post-coital dysphoria before, with five per cent saying they experienced symptoms on a monthly basis.
Sex therapist Denise Knowles told The Independent the condition has little to do with the state of the relationship, but with the marked change in hormones post-intercourse.
“Having sex is a hugely intimate act and an orgasm releases lots of wonderful feel-good bonding hormones,” she said.
"Those hormones drop following the peak of an orgasm, and as you separate from the closeness that brought it about, a sense of sadness can follow.
“You go from absolute joy and pleasure to being separated. That in its own way can cause women, and some men, to feel a bit sad. But it’s an organic biological function which happens to a greater or lesser extent to many people."
While experiencing low moods after sex every now and then is common, frequently feeling down is not, Knowles explained.
“However if you’re feeling upset and it’s not just about the natural separation after sex, that needs to be explored. It could be indicative of a bigger problem. If you’ve got these feelings sex therapy and or counselling can help. It might be a problem in the relationship rather than the sexual relationship."
Do you experience post-coital dysphoria? Tell us about your experience in the comments below...
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