Feeling blue after sex? While it’s not something most people are inclined to talk about, research suggests that sadness after orgasm, also called postcoital dysphoria, is a fairly common occurrence, with symptoms lasting anywhere from a couple minutes to a couple hours. It may manifest as tearfulness, agitation, anxiety or melancholy after a romp in the sack. Acknowledging and discussing this condition may be important for maintaining sexual health.

The Research

So far, research into postcoital dysphoria has focused on its occurrence in women, while it may very well impact men, too. A 2015 survey of female university students found that 46% had experienced sadness after sex at least once in their lives, while about 5% reported experiencing the feeling a few times within the past month.

Previous research found slightly different figures. About 10% of women exhibited symptoms of postcoital dysphoria in one study, and in another from 2011, about one-third of women reported feeling depressed even after what they considered to be satisfactory sex.


Researchers aren’t sure why postcoital dysphoria happens, and many of the people affected by it are equally in the dark. There are a number of theories about the condition, however, and each may hold true for different individuals.

One idea is that hormonal changes after sex can trigger feelings of sadness. This is bolstered by the fact that some women report similar feelings of sadness when breastfeeding, which also comes with a fluctuation of hormones. Sex-induced headaches are also sometimes attributed to hormones.

Another theory suggests that the loss of self that comes with orgasm may put some people at unease, creating symptoms of postcoital dysphoria. A popular French term for orgasm is "la petite mort," or "little death," describing how a person can become dissociated from him- or herself briefly during and after orgasm.

It is also possible that problems within a relationship could lead to distress after orgasm. As one of the most intimate experiences a couple can share, sex and orgasm have a way of conjuring, by contrast, discord within a relationship. A lack of emotional health or intimacy in a relationship can be thrown into relief in what would otherwise be the afterglow.

Still other researchers point to the possibility that past experiences of emotional, physical or sexual abuse may be behind some cases of postcoital dysphoria.

What to Do?

If one is experiencing this condition, a good first step to take is to acknowledge it without judgment. A good second step is to talk about it with people one trusts.

Ideally, one’s sexual partner or partners will be among the list of trusted people. A partner should know that the occurrence of postcoital dysphoria does not necessarily indicate bad sex or a lack of feeling for him or her on the distressed partner’s side of things. Indicate if there are things that help - for example, being cuddled and comforted, or, on the other hand, being left alone for a while.

To the extent possible, it’s also a good idea to ask oneself what may be behind the condition. Is the relationship healthy? Is one feeling uneasy about his or her partner? If not, other causes - such as hormonal shifts or loss of self - may be more difficult to identify. Talking with a counselor may prove helpful to identify potential psychological sources.

Fortunately, some postcoital problems are much easier to deal with, such as soreness and chafed skin. Using ample lubricant can help partners avoid the fallout from sexual friction. An extra step men can take is to use a quality penis health crème (health professionals recommend Man1 Man Oil) daily. Treating the skin to such a moisturizer, equipped with both Shea butter and vitamin E, can help it heal from past frictions and make it more resilient for next time. Taking good care of a man’s precious organ can boost confidence and function, two things imperative for sexual health.