Post-sex blues: Half of the women feel sad after intercourse, says study

Post-sex blues: Half of the women feel sad after intercourse, says study

The connection between sex and sadness is believed to have a long history. Almost half of all the women have felt sad after sex at some point in their lives, a study claims. It says that some women suffer the “post-sex blues,” which is marked by depression, anxiety, agitation, aggression, tearfulness or melancholy.

The study – “Postcoital Dysphoria: Prevalence and Psychological Correlates,” conducted by Dr. Robert Schweitzer and his colleagues from the Queensland Institute of Technology’s School of Psychology and Counseling, in 2012 – on 200 young women found that 32.9 percent experienced postcoital dysphoria (PCD) symptoms, while 10 percent admitted to experiencing distress and depression after having consensual sex. The study was first published online in the Journal of Sexual Medicine in October 2015.

The symptoms of this disorder are mild ranging from feelings of sadness, regret, restlessness, anxiety and irritability after a sexual encounter. “The original findings are so counter-intuitive. Everyone imagines sex as an enjoyable experience. But there seems to be a group of people who, in fact, experience distress following intercourse,” Schweitzer said in a news release.

Though the scientific reasons triggering post-coital blues are unknown, Michael Krychman, M.D., a gynecologist and executive director of the Southern California Center for Sexual Health and Survivorship in Newport Beach, California, said, “Hormonal shifts after orgasm — the same changes that sometimes trigger post-sex headaches — could be to blame.”

A study ‘Postcoital Dysphoria: Prevalence and Psychological Correlates’ by Sophie Saint Thomas published in the Sexual Medicine found that 46 percent of 230 women polled admitted to experiencing PCD symptoms at least once in their lifetime with 5.1 percent experiencing PCD symptoms a few times within the past four weeks.

Adding to the concept of having mixed feelings after sex in both men and women, Debby Herbenick, Ph.D., associate director of the Center for Sexual Health Promotion at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana, said, “There’s no doubt that many men and women swear that they have these negative feelings after sex, and occasionally after masturbation.”

Krychman said that feelings of depression after sex can affect older women and men too. Furthering the discussion about the possible reasons that trigger post-coital blues, Dr Herbenick said that it is necessary to understand where these feelings of depression came from and the possibility of sex raising other issues in one’s relationship or life outside of the bedroom.

In 2009, American psychiatrist, Richard Friedman had investigated possible biological explanations for post-coital sadness and suggested that temporary feelings of depression after sex could be attributed to amygdala – the part of the brain that deals with fear and anxiety – function sharply returning to normal levels.

Though the scientific reasons behind experiencing negative feelings after sex is unknown, following are the possible psychological reasons that may trigger depressive feelings after sex:

  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) related to prior sexual abuse.
  • Having sex when one does not want to or when is not emotionally or physically ready for the same.
  • Sexual relations with an abusive partner.
  • Low self-esteem which leads to poor body image or sexual performance.
  • Fear of rejection by partner after the culmination of sex.
  • Feelings of guilt or shame due to conservative background, conflicting religious beliefs and prior information about sex.
  • Strained relationship.

Looking for bliss

Women’s post-coital reactions and feelings, and post-coital dysphoria (PCD) remains under-researched despite the study of mental health making progress in defining the roots and symptoms of various kinds of depression. If one often feels sad after sex, it is important not to disregard the signs of sadness and talk to one’s partner about it. Seeking professional help can go a long way in finding the underlying causes of depression and its severity.

If you or your loved one has been feeling the blues and believe that the recurrence of these feelings is causing stress in the relationship, you may call the Florida Helpline for Anxiety for certified medical help. Call anytime at our helpline number 855-920-9834 or chat online. Our team of medical practitioners will guide you through the healing process.