Why Do You Feel Sad After Sex? Scientists Say It Affects Both Women and Men

"I get a strong sense of self-loathing."

Historically, sex is a thing that people want to have. We sing songs, make movies, and organize society around it and its consequences. All this hinges on the idea that sex is definitively good. However, this ignores and isolates the huge swaths of individuals for whom sex comes with complications. Many individuals, scientists say, suffer from postcoital dysphoria — that is, a sense of sadness after sex.

In March, a team of Australian and Swiss researchers became the first to study how postcoital dysphoria affects men. In the Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy paper, PCD is characterized as a “counter-intuitive phenomenon” characterized by “inexplicable feelings of tearfulness, sadness, or irritability following otherwise satisfactory consensual sexual activity.” Previous research showed that it affects women. But now scientists can categorically say that it affects men too.

This story is #6 on Inverse’s 25 Most Surprising Human Discoveries Made in 2018.

In an analysis of self-reported data on the sex lives of 1,208 men from around the world, the team determined that 41 percent of these men have experienced postcoital dysphoria, or PCD, at least once in their lifetime. Within this group, 20 percent had experienced it once in the past four weeks, and three to four percent experienced it regularly. While statistically, women experience PCD more frequently, the authors note that these numbers still are cause for concern.

“Results indicate that the male experience of the resolution phase may be far more varied, complex, and nuanced that previously thought,” the team writes, “and lay a foundation for future research investigating PCD among males.”

Sex activates the relationship-initiation process, but can leave some feeling sad.


While the the cause and effect relationship between sex and PCD needs to be studied more, some the men surveyed reported a history of psychological distress, sexual dysfunction, and a past history of abuse — all of which could be factors in the development of PDC. Many men reported feeling a sense of shame.

Hard to quantify but after sexual activity I get a strong sense of self-loathing about myself, usually I’ll distract myself by going to sleep and going and doing something else, or occasionally laying in silence until it goes away.”

Amanda Denes, Ph.D., an associate professor in the University of Connecticut’s Department of Communication who was not involved in the study, told Inverse in March that she suspects that if men engaged in “interventions on post-sex behavior,” it might ease PCD symptoms. Though this theory is as yet untested, her own research has shown that men who deliberately engage in post-coital pillow talk have healthier relationships and mindsets overall.

As 2018 winds down, Inverse is highlighting 25 surprising things we learned about humans this year. These stories told us weird stuff about our bodies and brains, uncovered insights into our social lives, and illuminated why we’re such complicated, wonderful, and weird animals. This story was #6. Read the original story here.

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