Have you ever experienced a quiet sadness after sex? A feeling of emptiness? Perhaps even so much as misery and tears? Even after some of the most beautiful and romantic sexual interactions with someone we love we feel lost, lonely, and raw. It can be rather alarming. Not to mention it can scare the heck out of our partner.
You’re with someone you care very deeply for, perhaps you’re married or have been in a long-term relationship for multiple years. Yet, you are depressed after sex.
For your 411: You’re not necessarily supposed to feel good after sex. Sure, you can. But there are a ton of emotions you might encounter, both high and low. The sadness you feel is perfectly normal and is part of a condition called Post Coital Dysphoria.
And guess what? It’s not only us ladies who feel sad. Men get PCD too.
What is PCD?
Post-Coital Dysphoria is hard to hammer out. Researchers believe it likely has something to do with the rush of hormones we experience after sex.
After an amazing orgasm, your brain is flushed with dopamine and oxytocin, the body’s motivation and love hormones. It’s a cocktail of feel-goodness. But, sometimes this intense combination can have an adverse effect, causing feelings of despair.
Another reason for PCD might be societal shame around sex and pleasure. It may be a combination of a number of factors.
So, why exactly this happens we’re not entirely sure, but it is quite common.
This condition has long been studied in women. According to the Journal of Sexual Medicine, nearly 50 percent of women have reported Post-Coital Dysphoria at some point in their lives. It's believed that about 2 percent of women see PCD recur regularly when they have sex.
However, surprise! This is not some “female thing.” Men get sad after sex, too.
While studies on PCD have largely been lacking a male population, new research shows that men may not only experience Post-Coital Dysphoria, but perhaps even more often than their female counterparts.
A new study looked at 1,208 men who completed an online survey about their post-coital experiences and their feeling therein. Participants ranged in age from 18-81. 84 percent of those involved reported to currently be in a form of sexual relationship.
Participants were asked if they had: “Experienced inexplicable tearfulness, sadness, or irritability following consensual sexual activity.” Oh, doesn’t that sound all too familiar?
41 percent of men reported having PCD at some point in their lives, 20 percent had experienced it in the previous four weeks, and 4.5 percent said they felt post-sex sadness on the regular.
We can learn something from these findings. Namely, that men and women aren’t so different from each other. We’re just taught different things about what it “means” to be a man or woman.
Men and boys are taught not to talk about their feelings and to bottle everything up. If you feel sadness or unhappiness after getting laid, you must not be a man. You must be weak. These are damaging teachings that have dire consequences for our interpersonal relationships.
When women wind up doing all of the emotional labor in a relationship, the partnership is damaged. How could it not be? Seeing science that supports that men having dysphoria after sex has the potential to help change the narrative around sexuality. We’re all emotional. It’s human-nature. Nothing with a human being is black and white.
Men are not simply these savage creatures doing anything they can to have sex. They are capable of having a wide range of emotions before, during, and after sexual activity. Likewise, women are not these “crazy” or “emotional” cyclones, but are simply humans experiencing a normal set of human emotions.
We have to normalize the feelings we have and talk about them, whatever those feelings may be.
In heterosexual relationships especially, both partners must be willing to have empathy for one another. There may be misunderstandings, but by allowing ourselves to process and understand the emotions of the person we love, we make that love stronger.
And ultimately, the sex will be better. If you’re going to feel sad after sex, wouldn’t it be better to know your partner understands and loves you no matter what? We’re thinking yes.