Postcoital tears, while confusing, are surprisingly common—so we asked an expert to get to the root of your after-sex blues
Okay, sex is awesome (hello, brain, body, and bond-boosting benefits!). But getting hit with the blues—instead of euphoria—after your bedroom session is anything but.
While some sexy sessions can be so good they make us cry (the rush of oxytocin that floods your brain post-orgasm has been known to cause a few happy tears), postcoital dysphoria (PCD) is the feeling of anxiety, depression, tearfulness, and even aggression (not the kind you want in bed) that some women experience right after sex. And according to a new survey of 230 college women, 46 percent of us have experienced the depressing phenomenon. Five percent of people in the study had experienced it a few times in the past month.
But why do some of us battle the blues beneath the sheers? Don't worry, a postcoital cry doesn't have much to do with the strength of your relationship, the level of intimacy between you and your partner, or how good the sex is. "Our hypothesis relates to sense of self and the fact that sexual intimacy may involve a loss of your sense of self," says Robert Schweitzer, Ph.D., and the study's lead author. See, since sex is an emotionally frought territory, no matter how you approach your love life, the mere act of intercourse tends to affect the way you see yourself, for better or worse. For people with a rock solid sense of who they are and what they want (both in the bedroom and in life), the authors of the study think PCD is less likely. "For a person with a very fragile sense of self, it may be more problematic," says Schweitzer.
Schweitzer says it's possible that there's a genetic component to PCD too—the researchers noticed a similarity between twins battling the post-sex blues (if one twin experienced it, the other was likely to as well). But more research is needed to test that idea.
For now, if you're suffering, the first step may be IDing the areas in your life that might have you feeling extra stressed or insecure, says Schweitzer. (Pro tip: Listen to the advice of these super-confident ladies to banish any lurking self-esteem issues.) The bottom line? It's absolutely not crazy to cry after sex. (It's one the 19 Weird Things That Can Make You Cry.)