Sex is often marked by feelings of joy, euphoria or bliss, but for some people, after the bedroom action is over, sad feelings can set in.
Scientists call the phenomenon “post-coital dysphoria.”
“There is still much to be discovered about why some people experience post-coital dysphoria and others don’t,” clinical sexologist and psychotherapist Kristie Overstreet, Ph.D., told Mind Body Green.
“There isn’t a definitive answer for why some do or do not experience this dysphoria. It isn’t necessarily linked to the quality of sex, your relationship, or your personality. Many people who are in a happy, supportive, and loving relationship experience post-coital dysphoria.”
A study in the Journal of Sex Marital Therapy surveyed 1,200 men and found that 41% had experienced post-sex sadness in their lifetime.
“Post-coital dysphoria may take form in different ways than sadness or distress,” Dr. Overstreet says. “It can also be feelings of anger and frustration, which is often the way men show what they are feeling.”
While the condition is often discussed in the context of women, it’s taken new research to open up the understanding to extend to men too. During the open end portion of the study’s questionnaire, men expressed having a strong “sense of self-loathing,” after intercourse of feeling a lot of “shame.” One man explains that he had “crying fits and full-on depressive episodes following coitus.”
While the descriptions may sound extreme, it’s important that we allow space for men to express their very real feelings after sex without judgement.
“Men are often taught that they aren’t supposed to show or experience emotions,” Dr. Overstreet says. “This stigma causes many to shut down and avoid how they are feeling versus sharing it with their partner. This can lead [them] to think that something is wrong with them or that they are weak for experiencing post-coital dysphoria.”