Everything you need to know about post coital depression

Have you ever cried after sex?

If you’ve ever suffered from those post sex blues, chances are that you might have post-coital depression.

Yes, it’s the strange phenomenon where you feel sad or down immediately after consensual sex and just can’t explain it.

We asked Stuart Nugent, the resident sex expert at sex toy company LELO to tell us more…

What is post coital depression?

‘This term might be related to a medically semi-recognised and partially researched phenomenon called ‘postcoital dysphoria’ which is a temporary mood drop after sex. It’s reported often enough that it’s statistically significant, but is seriously lacking in scientific study – as is the way with so much of our complex sex lives.

Another term for a similar scenario is postcoital tristesse, or post-sex sadness. It’s not clear if these two things or the same or not, but one thing is relatively clear: it’s not depression. Depression is a medically attested condition. Postcoital dysphoria seems to be temporary, common, and not chronic.’

Is there a cure?

‘Time, talking, intimacy (or space, for some) and rest are key. If you experience dysphoria after sex to such an extent that you’re worried that there may be an issue, then the issue may be some factor unrelated to sex. Perhaps an existing depressive condition may be at work, or perhaps you’re not hydrated enough. Until the necessary research is done, we can’t commit to answer, and you should discuss it with a qualified health professional.’

Why does it happen?

Post-sex sadness is reported so widely that it might be considered entirely normal. If that’s the case, then the reason for its existence might be an evolutionary one. Perhaps a sense of sadness after sex helps to strengthen the intimate bond between the partners. Perhaps the reason is rooted in a sudden biochemical change after sex.’

What does it mean?

‘Likely it doesn’t ‘mean’ anything, and any meaning ascribed to it is a projection of the person experiencing it. As unsatisfying an answer as this is, sometimes our bodies do things beyond our control, which means beyond our consciousness, which means beyond meaning, in an emotional sense.’

Who suffers from post coital depression?

‘The few studies done seem to indicate that women seem to experience a mood drop after sex more than men, whereas men seem to experience a kind of irritability. But the samples for these tests are tiny and anecdotally it seems almost exactly the same across men and women. There is at least some kind of emotional change immediately after sex for everybody…’

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