If you’ve ever shed a tear or two after an otherwise enjoyable roll in the sack, you’re not alone. An online survey of 230 female college students revealed that almost half of them — 46 percent — have experienced postcoital dysphoria, or post-sex blues, at least once in their lives. About five percent report having PCD a few times within the past four weeks.
The small study was published in the open access journal Sexual Medicine, with the caveat that a lot more work needs to be done to understand this little-researched phenomenon. And because most of the participants were white women with an average age of 25, the results aren’t generalizable to a wider population.
Past studies on the subject, employing different measurement methods among different types of women, have estimated that anywhere from 7.7 to 32.9 percent of women have experienced PCD at least once in their lifetimes.
Women who experience postcoital dysphoria may grow sad, cry or feel anxiety or aggression after having sex. While these studies are intriguing first steps in an area of sexual dysfunction that's not often discussed, there is no agreement on what exactly causes post-sex blues. One researcher describes PCD as irritability and “motiveless crying” after sex or an orgasm, but others are investigating the weak correlation between childhood sexual abuse and PCD in adulthood.
For most who experience it, however, past trauma has nothing to do with the tears on their pillow. Some speculate that the rush of hormones that flood your body during sex could be the cause, while others hypothesize that intense emotions may be to blame — the thrill of closeness and intimacy with your partner could be so intense that breaking the connection after sex could be overwhelming. Alternately, the after-sex glow in bed could be one of the only times you feel safe enough to express stress and anxiety about the other things that are going on in your life.
Men have been known to shed a few tears after sex, too. If crying after sex happens to you on the regular, sex experts agree on what to do: Explain to your partner that this is just something that happens after orgasm, and it has nothing to do with them or their performance. And maybe keep some tissue handy.