Some people suffer from sudden sadness and melancholy after the sexual experience. These emotions primarily affect women, but there are also some men who have had this experience with postcoital dysphoria. Everything goes normally, the orgasm is great, but instead of relaxation and satisfaction, a feeling of emptiness follows.
What is postcoital dysphoria?
One study showed that one in three women has experienced post-sex depression at some point in their lives, regardless of how the sex went. The medical term for this sadness after sex is postcoital dysphoria. Dysphoria is understood to mean the disruption of emotional experiences that go hand in hand with normal everyday life and are not necessarily an indication of a specific illness. See howsmb for Internet Addiction Definition and Meaning.
Dissatisfaction, irritability and a generally bad mood are the result, the person is angry without being able to name reasons for it. However, if this mood persists and occurs frequently, the dysphoria becomes a post-traumatic stress disorder and can also be associated with depression. Dysphoria can occur on its own, but it can also be an accompanying symptom of hormonal changes.
Of course, this can also be the case with postcoital dysphoria. But not only. Despite extensive studies, the actual causes have not been clearly clarified, only that postcoital dysphoria occurs very frequently, especially in women, could be proven. Normally, the sexual experience leads to physical and emotional relaxation, satisfaction and a good feeling. This is because neurotransmitters and hormones are released by the body.
This hormone change can be one of the reasons why there are mood swings after sex, which also go in the opposite direction. Not only do many women feel sad, they can’t even hold back their tears. After that, the detachment is denied. Instead, not only sadness and melancholy follow, but even inner restlessness, irritability and fear.
Symptoms, Ailments & Signs
The type of intimacy and the love or trust in the partner have no influence on these emotions. However, an indication of such feelings is possible trauma associated with the sexual act. These can be experiences related to childhood difficulties or even abuse. The sex is then unconsciously accompanied by feelings of shame, a bad conscience, fear, guilt and punishment, even loss.
Problems with other people are also a trigger of postcoital dysphoria. The fear of close contact or of committing oneself at all causes an inner confusion that is not always consciously perceived and is only expressed in sexual desire. The opposite can also be the case, with women who perceive the deep bond with their partner through sex. They want to merge with him, so to speak, but feel the detachment that occurs after the act as a burden, as a physically noticeable separation that does not actually happen, but occurs consciously or unconsciously as an overwhelming feeling of fear. Psychological and other types of stress can also cause postcoital dysphoria.
Diagnosis & course of disease
Human biological predisposition certainly plays another important role. The feeling for oneself and one’s own body, as well as one’s character, can have an influence on such emotions, when the good feeling suddenly turns into deep depression. At least the emotional crash is not due to the partner. Neither a lack of love nor affection are triggers, nor are personal feelings that are nurtured towards the partner.
An occasional low mood after intercourse usually has no serious consequences. Even if the causes are psychological in nature. Such reactions may indicate possible trauma associated with the sharing of intimacies and the sexual act. The sexual act is then associated with negative emotions such as shame, fear, or guilt. Many of those affected have not processed experiences from their childhood.
In addition to dissatisfaction, irritability and a generally bad mood, those affected can also suffer from severe anxiety or depression. If this happens regularly, post-traumatic stress disorder can develop. The patients then increasingly avoid sexual intercourse because it no longer means pleasure and sexual satisfaction for them, but rather the negative emotions predominate.
Those affected react dismissively to their partner, who cannot always understand the reasons for this. The relationship is under considerable strain and often fails. Sufferers in whom postcoital dysphoria takes on such an extreme form, urgently need the help of a trained psychologist. Couples therapy is also usually required so that the partner learns to deal with the illness and understands that the negative feelings after sexual intercourse are not related to him or caused by him.
When should you go to the doctor?
Women who repeatedly feel irritable or sad after sex should talk to their gynecologist about it. Postcoital dysphoria is a serious sexual disorder that can place a great deal of strain on interpersonal relationships over the long term. Postcoital dysphoria is particularly common among those who have experienced sexual abuse. In general, the phenomenon is attributed to a disturbed relationship to sexuality. Affected women should work with a psychologist to determine the causes of the problems.
The gynecologist can put you in touch with a suitable sex therapist. If necessary, trauma therapy is also useful and necessary to deal with conflicts and traumatic experiences and thereby also to alleviate the typical symptoms such as irritability, sadness, exhaustion or separation anxiety. If necessary, you can also visit a self-help group. In conversations with other affected women, they learn how to deal with postcoital dysphoria and receive tips for other contact points. In the case of severe mood swings, hormone treatment is possible, which is usually carried out in a specialist clinic.
Treatment & Therapy
If such mood swings occur more frequently or are they always the case after sex, other causes can be the trigger and should then also be intensively explored psychologically. It is possible that behind such low moods there is a highly stressful event or a situation that is unconsciously perceived as a threat and has an impact on the emotions. There may also be a tendency to depression.
The actual stress factors are not always clearly identifiable. Then the person needs to deal more deeply with the emotions and fluctuations and possibly also consider psychological therapy to deal with the whole situation. This usually takes place in several phases. First of all, the person must feel safe and comfortable in the conversation and want to express the feelings.
What can then come to light as experiences must ultimately be perceived as past. Then the focus is on coping with everyday life and relaxation and breathing exercises create a new balance and can also have an influence on sex life.
However, post-coital dysphoria is not usually a permanent phenomenon during sex, and when it does occur, the ensuing depression quickly passes. Those who are often affected by such feelings can remedy the sadness with exercise and a warm shower afterwards. The warm water causes relaxation for the body and lifts the spirits again.
If the medical examinations and treatments have been completed and no cause leading to postcoital dysphoria has been diagnosed, no follow-up care is necessary. Postcoital dysphoria does not constitute a permanent condition or impairment. Therefore, it does not need to be accompanied by further evaluation and treatment. Patients who are more frequently affected by a low mood after sexual intercourse should develop strategies to counteract this.
This includes regular physical activity, a healthy and balanced diet and exercise in the fresh air. Regular relaxation exercises are also advisable. Autogenic training or progressive muscle relaxation according to Jacobson have proven themselves. Postcoital dysphoria should be discussed with the partner in a sensitive, open conversation.
In addition, forms of therapy would also be conceivable and important for both partners. Affection, partner talks, kissing and cuddling strengthen the feelings towards one another. They counteract postcoital dysphoria. Exactly the opposite is achieved with resentment and upsets. However, if a cause has been identified in the course of the examinations and treatments (e.g. abuse in childhood), follow-up treatments are very important. The patient should then be monitored regularly and over a longer period of time by a family doctor and psychotherapist. If the postcoital dysphoria recurs, rapid intervention can then be carried out.
You can do that yourself
This condition commonly affects women and can occur relatively frequently. Those affected often have a guilty conscience towards their sexual partner. However, the bad conscience is unfounded: nobody is to blame for postcoital dysphoria.
Those affected should consult a doctor as hormone problems may be at the root of the disorder. But psychological problems, such as trauma after abuse, can also trigger postcoital dysphoria. If there are no physical causes for the sadness after the act, then people should seek help from a psychologist. Traumas from childhood should also be processed so that postcoital dysphoria does not turn into depression or those affected avoid sexual intercourse in the future. If those affected have a permanent partner, they should seek couples therapy or at least include him in their own therapy.
However, patients with postcoital dysphoria may also benefit from relaxation techniques. These include yoga, Reiki, progressive muscle relaxation according to Jacobson, breathing exercises, Qigong and Tai Chi, but also alternative forms of therapy such as music therapy, laughter yoga or EFT tapping therapy can have a relieving effect. Music therapy in particular shows how one’s own mood can be improved through music as an expression of emotions.