Postcoital Dysphoria: When You Inexplicably Become Sad After Consensual, Satisfying Sex
August 27, 2018 by Justin Lehmiller
How do you feel after sex? If you’re like most people, you’re probably pretty happy. After all, “it feels good” and “it’s fun” are among the most common reasons men and women alike report having sex in the first place. We have sex, in part, because it’s a rewarding activity that creates positive affect—it tends to make us feel pretty damn good. However, not everyone experiences sex that way.
Rather than feeling good, some people feel sad or irritable following what is otherwise a consensual and satisfying sexual encounter. When this occurs, it’s known as postcoital dysphoria—and researchers have found that this is something that can affect both men and women.
Postcoital dysphoria is the subject of a recent column I wrote over at VICE. In this article, I focus a new study, which happens to offer the first glimpse at this phenomenon in men. A handful of studies have been published over the last decade documenting postcoital dysphoria in women; however, there hasn’t been any scientific evidence that men experience it, too, at least until now.
All of the available data so far is based on convenience samples, which means we don’t know the true prevalence of it; however, the data that do exist have found that nearly half of men and women surveyed report having experienced postcoital dysphoria before (defined specifically as “inexplicable tearfulness, sadness, or irritability following consensual sexual activity”).
This suggests that it may actually be normative for people to experience postcoital dysphoria from time to time; however, as a recurring phenomenon, it seems to be rare, with fewer than 5% of men and women saying they experience it all or most of the time they have sex.
To learn more about research on postcoital dysphoria, including theories on where it comes from and some of the factors associated with it, check out the full article over at VICE.
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To learn more about postcoital dysphoria, see:
Bird, B. S., Schweitzer, R. D., & Strassberg, D. S. (2011). The prevalence and correlates of postcoital dysphoria in women. International Journal of Sexual Health, 23(1), 14-25.
Maczkowiack, J., & Schweitzer, R. D. (2018). Postcoital Dysphoria: Prevalence and Correlates among Males. Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy.
Image Source: 123RF/Kamil Macniak
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Dr. Justin LehmillerFounder & Owner of Sex and Psychology
Dr. Justin Lehmiller is a social psychologist and Research Fellow at The Kinsey Institute. He runs the Sex and Psychology blog and podcast and is author of the popular book Tell Me What You Want. Dr. Lehmiller is an award-winning educator, and a prolific researcher who has published more than 50 academic works.Read full bio >