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Why Do You Feel Sad After Sex

PCD Post-coital dysphoria is “a thing.” Ever asked yourself, “Why do I feel sad after sex?”

A few years ago, I was on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s hit show Triple J “Hook Up” with Hannah Riley talking about what to do if you feel sad after sex.

It was a call-in show, and two guys and one gal called and talked about how they cry after making love.

It’s more common than you think. So if you’ve ever been puzzled by negative feelings that seem to arise out of nowhere after making love, you’ll want to read on. 

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why do I feel sad after sex


46% of women know from experience that having intercourse doesn’t always end in euphoria. Sometimes, it ends in dysphoria. Surprisingly, new research shows that it’s not just human females who fall prey to post-coital dysphoria (PCD); males of our species do, too.

Robert Schweitzer, professor of psychology at the Queensland University of Technology in Australia, has researched the phenomenon for many years.

He initially studied women and eventually began to study men as well. He included both genders in his studies and selected participants at various stages of life who were married, unmarried, and divorced. His research found that negative emotions after making love occur across the human spectrum regardless of age, gender, marital status, or marital satisfaction.


Few women find it surprising or unusual to feel sad or shed tears after intercourse. In one study, 46% of women reported experiencing PCD symptoms at least once in their lifetime, and 5.1% had experienced symptoms more than once in the four weeks before the study.

sad after sex


For any given man, however, it can be quite alarming the first time he sees a woman’s face clouded with sadness in the aftermath of sex rather than radiating in the oft-touted afterglow.

But in general, men come to terms with this fairly common occurrence. 

It’s a different story the first time he experiences the blues after sex. Then, he will not only be alarmed but may feel confused, worried he’s abnormal, and even feel embarrassed by his solid and inexplicable feelings.

In reality, men who experience post-coital dysphoria are not abnormal; they are invisible to the media and a culture that insists men are not as vulnerable as women regarding sexuality.

One of the men who called into the radio show cried after ejaculating, even when he masturbated. For him, I recommended semen retention (not ejaculating) and getting to the root cause of his worry, which is likely shame of some sort.

What is accurate, and research bears out, is that men’s responses to lovemaking run across a full spectrum. For many men, sex makes them feel great. They jump up after intercourse, full of energy or – more commonly – roll overspent but happy. For other men, feelings of sadness, upset, or disconnection arise after sex.

You should note that PCD is distinct from the refractory period, wherein a man cannot get hard for a time after an ejaculatory orgasm. In contrast, a man can have sad feelings after intercourse even if he doesn’t ejaculate; the condition is emotional, not physiological. (Serotonin reuptake inhibitors have been used to treat PCD with success, but I feel that is just masking a deeper issue.)

I’m guessing that one cause of PCD is a person’s “attachment style.” You can be securely or insecurely attachment-parented. Your attachment style tracks back to infancy and childhood, to the first bond you formed with your mother or primary caregiver. Unfortunately, according to studies among American adults, nearly half of us suffer from an insecure attachment style.

The other half was fortunate to form a secure attachment and therefore have more positive emotions during sex and higher levels of arousal and orgasm. Securely attached people tend to be better communicators than those with an insecure attachment style that makes them susceptible to negative emotions during or after sex. Conversely, emotionally insecure people who bond with others are more likely to have a low libido and difficulty getting aroused or achieving climax. As a result, they are not so good at communicating, take more risks sexually, and have a higher incidence of sexually transmitted infections.

That said, if you have an insecure attachment style, these challenges can be overcome by: 1) becoming aware, 2) understanding your particular attachment issues, 3) being patient with yourself, given that you have to make an extra effort to bond with someone, and 4) working it through with a partner who is willing to help you feel more secure.

PCD may have other root causes, including the orgasm gap, i.e., the great divide between men and women vis-à-vis the frequency and ease of having an orgasm during intercourse. Generally, a man can achieve climax from intercourse more than 90% of the time, whereas 55% of women orgasm only some of the time from penetration; the rest of the time, she struggles or has given up hope.

Click Here To End The Orgasm Gap ⇐ Intimate Orgasms For Everybody (Passionate Lovemaking Techniques For Lovers) 

If you had sex without an orgasm, it would make you sad and a bit worried about future attempts, leading to a negative sexual spiral.

Body image can contribute to PCD, especially for women who worry more about their weight and body style than men. Guys are often self-conscious about the size of their penis; this is especially common among men who watch a lot of porn and thus have a skewed view of penis size. They begin to fear their penis is inferior in size and angle, shape, and whether or not it is circumcised.

Many men struggle with premature ejaculation, erectile dysfunction, or stamina issues that make it difficult to last as long as they’d like – or as long as their woman would like. Anxiety over their performance would seem natural in that case. Other men struggle to have an orgasm at all (delayed ejaculation) or have been watching so much sensational porn they can’t achieve a climax when they get with a real live partner. All of these concerns can cause negative feelings to arise after sex.

PCD can be related to general mental worries such as pregnancy or STIs for both men and women. This is why I place so much emphasis on context, or what I call “loverspace,” in my book, Sexual Soulmates. 

A theory I respect congruent with conversations with other women is that sex puts us in touch with deep emotions. PCD is an intense release that allows ordinarily buried feelings to rise. Our enteric nervous system holds emotion in our womb. Both men and women tend to let go during lovemaking and, in the letting go, allow our defenses to drop. The flood of emotion that ensues can be pretty intense.

Many women cry, laugh or even howl from orgasmic release, which is extremely common and suitable for a nervous system reboot.

If a man or woman cannot reach orgasm, sheer frustration may cause PCD. Similarly, if a partner goes along with sex out of a sense of duty or gives “mercy sex” to assuage a partner or get them off their back, one or both may be swarmed by the sadness of the aftermath.

Many causes can contribute to PCD: depression, medical issues, poor exercise habits, hormonal disruptions, medication, sexual shame, repression, and a history of sexual abuse.

Issues with a partner can also be causal. For example, in the book, Why Men Stop Having Sex, the author’s survey had some unhappy results: 68% say their partner isn’t adventurous, so sex is no longer satisfying, 61% say their partner doesn’t enjoy sex which lessens their enjoyment, 48% say they’re not interested in their wife or partner anymore, 44% say they’re angry at their partner, and 41% are just plain dull. Across the board for men and women of all ages, Boredom is the single most significant factor contributing to sexual frustration.

More troubling statistics: 32% of men say they don’t find her sexually attractive, 20% say they’re having an affair, and 9% say she’s having an affair. In addition, negative mood and depression account for 34% of people being dissatisfied with their sexuality, 25% would rather masturbate, 6% say they’re just too busy to be interested in sex, and 3% have never been interested in having sex.

There are many reasons a man or a woman could feel sad or upset after sex. None of this is “abnormal” on the spectrum of sexual behavior. All people, men, and women, run the range of human emotions about their sexuality.

Regardless of the circumstances that contribute to PCD, it’s important to honor where you are rather than assume “something’s wrong” with you. Do your best to understand your feelings and identify what’s impacting you specifically. Please don’t compare yourself to others, to what you imagine they are experiencing in the bedroom. Then focus on healing, problem-solving with a partner, and finding wholeness in whatever way is right.

Our bodies are designed to experience pleasure before, during, and after sex. Therefore, anyone who struggles with PCD can set their intention on remedying the situation and turning it around to experience the kind of post-coital euphoria that makes for relationship happiness.

Click Here To End The Orgasm Gap ⇐ Intimate Orgasms For Everybody (Passionate Lovemaking Techniques For Lovers) 

Susan S. Bratton
“Trusted Hot Sex Advisor To Millions”
CEO, Personal Life Media

8 Responses

  1. I read Naomi Wolf’s book: Vagina, and in it the author goes on a quest to understand a neural problem she is having (and how it diminished her sexual enjoyment) and discovers so much about the female body, women’s sexuality, the vagina itself and how women are wired. The vagina holds trauma. If a woman has been sexually assaulted, raped or even domestically abused, she can hold trauma in her vagina. I have had a lot of sexual trauma. Most of it before I started dating my husband in 2003. About 6 months into our relationship, I was falling in love with him hard, and I started crying after having hard orgasms he would give me from penetrative sex. He is a very good lover. I felt so stupid at the time, and of course, he just hugged me and told me it was OK. It happened several times, over the course of a year or so, then it stopped. Wolf investigates Sacred Tantric massage of the Yoni as it’s used to release trauma for women. And I think that is what my husband was doing. At least the betrayal of other men who claimed they loved me. I am not sure he rid me of the trauma of my rape. But he definitely helped. We have been together 20 years and we both feel very strongly our sexual relationship has NEVER gotten boring, and it’s taken on a richness that is overwhelming sometimes, just in the sweet, quiet energy between us, as we breathe together, whisper sweet “I love yous” together, enjoy the feeling we give each other and appreciate each other’s bodies for where we are in life. I had been in 3 and 4 year long relationships with other men that had us trying to “keep things interesting” in the bedroom, even that young in our relationship. I am so glad I did not settle for one of those men. My husband is the greatest love of my life.

  2. O M G .. I must have this book. You’re very informative. And I know my current husband and I really need info from your books, as my husband thinks it cute to cgeat, fight , and then he runs off to his auntie, r sister’s place.. n then after a couple weeks he calls. Ick I tell him, gross that I love him much.. he makes mad love to me, but yup we need download the book. I can’t find the link ..?

  3. So what are your thoughts on male or female chastity? I’ve been experimenting with a male chastity cage myself since last September and I must say: the orgasm denial really works for me.

    I feel happier and stronger and my wife gets all the attention, sex and orgasms she wants. What more could we wish for?

    1. Hi Shavvy,
      For some couples, “orgasm denial” is a plus up. Whereas other couples could never imagine finding pleasure from the same situation. In my conversations over more than a decade with people from around the world, I’ve found that there is a small minority of men who get more pleasure from not ejaculating. It seems to increase your power, rather than reduce it. So if it’s working for you, keep doing it. Though I have read that ejaculating a few times a month can help keep your plumbing running better and may lower the risk for prostate cancer. So you might want to seek a balance.

  4. People get sad after sex because they are coming in contact with the negative energies of their partner. One friend of mine wondered why he felt so depressed after sex with his Ex. Well, she was clinically depressed! {she came from a family where he mother was beaten and abused by her father for her entire childhood).

    Women must be particulaly careful with whom and when they have sex, because women are receptacles.. If your guy has been carousing in bars with his buddies then has sex with you, he is going to fill you with all sorts of negative energies which will dampen your happiness.

    Best suggestion: find a virtuous man!

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