If you’ve ever cried after having sex, know that it’s perfectly normal and you’re not alone.
They might be happy tears, tears of relief, or a bit of melancholy. Tears during or after sex can also be a purely physical reaction.
Clinically speaking, crying after sex is known as postcoital dysphoria (PCD) or — occasionally — postcoital tristesse (PCT). PCD symptoms may include tearfulness, sadness, and irritability after consensual sex, even if it was perfectly satisfying.
PCD doesn’t necessarily have to involve an orgasm. It can happen to anyone, regardless of gender or sexual orientation.
Research on the topic is limited, so it’s hard to say how many people experience it.
In a 2015 study, researchers surveyed 230 heterosexual females and found PCD to be prevalent.
Using an anonymous questionnaire for a 2018 study, researchers found that of 1,208 males, 41 percent experienced PCD. Up to 4 percent said it was a regular thing.
Follow along as we look into some reasons someone might cry after sex and what to do if it happens to you or your partner.
A range of emotions can evoke crying, and they’re not all bad.
You’ve probably experienced or witnessed “tears of joy,” such as at a wedding or birth of a child. The same thing can happen during or after sex.
Maybe you’re head over heels in love, or perhaps you just had the best sex ever.
If you haven’t had sex in a while or anticipated it for a long time, these feelings can be even more intense.
Being overwhelmed by your body’s response
Did you just have the biggest orgasm of your life? Was it your first experience with multiple orgasms?
Intense physical sexual pleasure can definitely overwhelm, and it’s not surprising that you would cry.
Conversely, you might be overwhelmed by your body’s lack of response.
If you’ve been looking forward to great sex and don’t get the ending you want, you might be frustrated and tense enough to cry.
Being overwhelmed by the scenario
Did you get totally lost in the moment? Were you role-playing or fantasizing during sex?
These scenarios can rev up tension and create an emotional roller coaster.
You might have quickly bounced from anticipation to fear to ecstasy before crashing back down to earth.
Tears may mean you’re simply overwhelmed by the thrill of it all.
If you’re bothered by the crying response, you can try toning the scenario down a bit to see if that helps.
Some estimates suggest that anywhere from 32 to 46 percent of females experience PCD. But there hasn’t been a lot of research to determine why.
It may be due to hormonal changes that happen during sex, which can lead to intense emotions.
Crying may also be a mechanism for reducing tension and intense physical arousal. If you’re coming off a dry spell, suddenly letting go of all that pent-up sexual energy could certainly bring you to tears.
Sometimes, it’s purely physical.
There are many reasons you might experience pain with sex.
Painful intercourse is called dyspareunia, which includes pain during or after intercourse due to:
- lack of lubrication
- trauma or irritation of the genitals
- urinary tract or vaginal infection
- eczema or other skin conditions near the genitals
- vaginal muscle spasms, called vaginismus
- congenital abnormalities
Physical pain associated with sex can be treated, so make an appointment with your doctor.
If sex play involves restraints or any level of pain that you’re not comfortable with, talk to your partner about how to role-play without causing physical pain. Find the level that works for both of you.
Shame of guilt
There are a lot of reasons you might feel such shame or guilt after sex that it makes you cry.
At some point in your life, someone may have told you that sex is inherently bad, especially in certain contexts. You don’t have to buy into these theories to have them pop into your head at inopportune moments.
You might be uncomfortable with what you see as “animal” behavior, “kinky” sex, or lack of impulse control. You could have body image issues or dread the prospect of being seen naked.
Shame and guilt after sex can also be residual effects of other issues within the relationship that follow you into the bedroom.
Crying is a natural reaction to stress, fear, and anxiety.
When you’re feeling anxious in general, it’s hard to put that aside to have sex.
Your body may be going through the motions, but your mind is elsewhere. After sex, you might find yourself in tears over it.
Could it be that you have a touch of performance anxiety? After sex, you might be worried about whether you satisfied your partner or whether you lived up to expectations.
All that anxiety can open the floodgates and get tears rolling.
If you find yourself crying frequently it could be a sign of depression or other mental health condition that should be addressed.
Other signs of depression can include:
- frustration, irritability, or anger
- difficulty sleeping, restlessness, or fatigue
- loss of concentration or memory
- appetite changes
- unexplained aches and pains
- loss of interest in normal activities, including sex
The rate of PCD is higher for those with postpartum depression. That may be due to rapid fluctuations in hormone levels.
Confusion after sex isn’t all that unusual. It may be due to the sex itself.
Was it a case of mixed signals? You thought things would go one way but they veered off in another direction?
You told them you dislike something but they did it anyway? You thought you were giving pleasure but they’re obviously unsatisfied or upset?
Unresolved issues and emotional confusion from a relationship can invade your sex life. You might have different ideas about where the relationship stands or how the other person really feels about you.
Sex doesn’t always turn out great. Sometimes one or both of you are left confused and disappointed.
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