Post-coital Dysphoria, or Why You Get Sad After Sex


Many people are familiar with mood swings and discouragement. Usually, there is nothing wrong with it, but sometimes prolonged melancholy is a symptom of mental illness. It is important to distinguish the reduced emotional background from dysphoria in time. So, what is it? How to deal with it? And when is it time to go to a doctor?

postcoital dysphoria causes

What is post-coital dysphoria?

Postcoital dysphoria is a feeling of unexplained sadness that occurs after the end of a sexual contact, often accompanied by the state of melancholy, irritability and even tears. Despite the widespread myth that depressed states after sex are peculiar only to women, scientists argue the opposite. Scientists consider sex as a process consisting of four phases: sexual arousal, stimulation, orgasm, and liberation. During the very last process, the state of depression after sex can be felt by both women and men. And if women started talking about postcoital dysphoria for a long time ago, then discussions of it in men appeared quite recently.

Based on the results of research, about 50% of women and 40% of men experienced the feeling of emotional decline after sex at least once in life. At the same time, they described this state as a feeling of anxiety, irritation, sadness, a desire to step back from a partner and be alone with oneself.

Such a condition can last from a few minutes to two or even five hours, and the regularity of symptoms varies from person to person: some have experienced it once and some have experienced postcoital dysphoria several times a month. At the same time, no one can say exactly what specific causes affect the state of people in which they get after sex. The fact is that the liberation phase itself is very different from the three preceding ones. After sex, there comes a period when a large amount of blood drives from the genitals, the concentration of certain hormones after a sufficient increase comes to normal, the body goes into a phase of restoration of forces and resources, including emotions. And if in the case of postcoital dysphoria in women psychologists tend to talk about some psycho-emotional reasons, for example, dissatisfaction with themselves, sex or a partner, experiences or regrets about sex that they had, then in the case of men, the causes acquire more physiological traits.

postcoital dysphoria symptomsAfter orgasm, the male hormone prolactin (this hormone is actively produced in women during pregnancy and breastfeeding) increases sharply in the blood, which can cause depressive conditions and bouts of sadness. Also, the other side of the matter is that men experience physical exhaustion after the sexual intercourse because the body releases sperm, for the development of which it spent a lot of effort. By the way, men go through any sexual experience much more emotionally, no matter how impregnable and cold they may seem.

What are postcoital dysphoria causes?

From sex, we are waiting relaxation and happiness. In fact, it is programmed for this because hormones of happiness are produced in the process of making love and there is a complete relaxation of the muscles. And this is only in terms of physiology. But there is also a psycho-emotional component: during sex, we feel that we are incredibly close and frank with another person who also opens up to us. So, what’s the deal? Why does spiritual suffering come after such a powerful antidepressant activity? The solution lies not in psychology as it may seem at first glance but in physiology.

Let’s imagine: sex was wonderful, you got a great orgasm. However, you realized that you felt bad – it is sad and you have heavy thoughts. Why does this happen? Most often we pay much more attention to sex itself, rather than what happens after it. If you are faced with a feeling of sadness and a strange sense of loneliness after the act of love, then you have this phenomenon that is called postcoital dysphoria. The main causes of postcoital dysphoria are the psychological problems. It can be cheating, dissatisfaction with your partner or yourself, the fear of contracting a sexually transmitted disease, etc. There are many psychological reasons for the development of postcoital dysphoria, but why someone experiences good emotions and someone negative ones after sex:

1. Chronic sense of guilt

It is especially easy to fall into the melancholy for people who are prone to experience feelings of guilt – that is, about 30% of the world’s population. Such people usually try their best to be good. Sex removes borders and limiters. And such “good” people suddenly let themselves God knows what. And waking up, they feel remorse for their “improper” behavior and sadness. Sex and taboos – these two concepts are so deeply rooted in our subconscious mind that we are able to feel guilty for any erotic experiences. Put aside the false shame and stop blaming yourself: sex is a pleasure, not a confession of sins that you, by the way, don’t commit.

2. Riddles of nature

The thing is that orgasm causes strong positive changes in the body. During orgasm, the brain parts involved in the production of dopamine are activated. It is a hormone that is released when you have pleasure, for example, it is actively produced at a time when we fall in love. Also, during orgasm, the activity of the cerebellar amygdala is significantly reduced, which is responsible for the feeling of fear. Plus, at the time of the highest pleasure, the pain threshold is also increased. But after the highest point of pleasure is reached, the body is forced to return to its normal state. And in contrast to the euphoria tested just now, the norm starts to seem insufficient.

3. Unjustified expectations

Did you see a beauty in a restaurant and decided that she can be the queen of sex? But she was not so good in bed or maybe she fell asleep just touching your hot body? Did you really want to get the brightest orgasm of your life but get disappointment? It happens. And you have the right to feel sad about it. And in the future, try not to hold yourself to expectations. Then there will be no disappointments.

4. Dissatisfaction with oneself

This is the problem of people who are insecure and suspicious. It’s scary to imagine how many demons torment an insecure man. The size of the penis, too short sex, the blame for the lack of orgasm of a partner, and so on. Women suffer no less – cellulite, small breast, big hips, and so on. In this case, it is important to understand a simple truth: we all have shortcomings. But your bed is just the place where even the flaws of a loved one turn into virtues.

5. Features of male and female perception

Very often, the cause of postcoital dysphoria in men is the power of their feelings. They love and desire women too much, open themselves up during sex, and openly express their emotions and then become frightened of their passions become closed and repel their loved ones. In men, the expression of a feeling is often considered a manifestation of weakness.

What are postcoital dysphoria symptoms?

As you could understand, postcoital dysphoria is a feeling of inexplicable sadness and reverie after sex. Despite the fact that this effect was checked (and proved its existence) on women, it is obvious that something similar is typical of men too. In the social experiment, many men took part. Now scientists can argue with the widespread opinion that men experience exceptionally pleasant emotions after sex and it is always a pleasing action for them. They add that the men they examined often said that they felt “devastated”, “unsatisfied” after sex, and some of them confessed to wanting to be alone. It is interesting that only men who are involved in serious, long and heterosexual relationships took part in the experiment. Scientists emphasized that symptoms of the condition included an inexplicable feeling of sadness, irritability, and sometimes tearfulness.

Here are a few confessions made by volunteers. This is how postcoital dysphoria occurs in men. Maybe you will recognize yourself in these symptoms:

  • post-coital tristesse treatment“After sexual activity, I experience severe devastation, so I tend to distract myself: I try to fall asleep, go to do something or just keep silent until it goes away”;
  • “I feel disgraced. Sometimes I have a desire to cry, but more often these are long depressive episodes that cause my loved one to worry. My partner can be sad and even cry after sex as well, but I must admit that she does it less often than I do”;
  • “I don’t usually want my girl to worry, so I try to keep calm. However, even when it seems that everything is normal, it happens and lasts for hours”.

So, a person suffering from post-coital tristesse experiences unusual sensations after sex. Instead of the usual euphoria and relaxation, a partner feels anxiety, melancholy, and irritability. Men and women can burst into tears immediately after the end of sexual intercourse. The cause of this condition can serve as sexual abuse in the past. Immediately after coition, a person sometimes has a headache and it lasts up to several hours in some cases. Patients describe it as a throbbing pain in the occiput or forehead.

What is postcoital dysphoria treatment?

First of all, people that suffer from postcoital depression should undergo a full medical examination. This includes psychological research. The main post coital dysphoria treatment is aimed at weakening or completely eliminating all the symptoms of the disease.

  • It is necessary to return a partner satisfaction with intimate relationships.
  • Drug medications should be selected taking into account the expressed sexual symptoms as well as various mental disorders and dysfunctions.
  • A person must undergo a mandatory psychotherapeutic course. During a conversation with a doctor, a specialist will make a correction of the psychological mechanisms that are directly involved in sexual manifestations or their dysfunctions.
  • Proper nutrition is a mandatory option. With full nutrition, the human body receives all the necessary vitamins and trace elements. Some food products are able to lift the mood and remove negative emotions. The high content of fats in food contributes to the development of suicidal thoughts. If there is a tendency to depression, you need to exclude from the daily diet coffee, alcohol and all bad habits (drug addiction).
  • A person should exclude bad habits. This is also a very important option in post-coital tristesse treatment.
  • A person should get positive emotions. The absence of conflicts in a family and at work is also a necessary prevention of depression. Positive emotions are the key to good mood and well-being.
  • Communication with a partner. You need to communicate with a partner, be able to support and listen. All the problems that arise regarding sexual relations must be overcome together.
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