The after-sex blues!

If you have ever felt sad, weepy or anxious after having sex, take heart because you are one of many! This phenomenon is surprisingly common, and the condition is officially known as post-coital dysphoria (PCD) or post-coital tristesse (PCT). Post-sex sadness, anxiety, or agitation, can feel uncomfortable and confusing – especially for those who are used to experiencing closeness with their partner during sex.

Fortunately, this discomfort is usually short-lived, and after a few minutes, it may subside and you begin to feel better. However, if the feelings of PCD persist, or recur often, it could lead to anxiety which can lower or impede your libido, and affect the joy in the sexual encounter. Experts agree that the condition affects both men and women, and the anxiety it causes can harm your relationship with your partner.

What are the main causes of post-coital dysphoria?

If you are prone to anxiety and stress, you might also have a high risk of experiencing symptoms of PCD.

Here are some of the chief causes of sex-related mood swings:

  • Unresolved issues of fears about your relationship such as feeling insecure.
  • Your upbringing may have left you with guilt or shame about sex, which you subconsciously bring into the bedroom.
  • You may have a body image issue that makes you anxious about being seen naked.
  • You may be a survivor of sexual assault or abuse that has not yet been dealt with and may subconsciously be reliving a traumatic event. During sex, certain ways of being touched could trigger past trauma.
  • Hormones can also have an effect. While having sex, a variety of hormones are released into the bloodstream. These include dopamine, a feel-good hormone in the brain, and oxytocin which gives you a high, promoting empathy, love and trust during sexual activity. After making love, these hormone levels subside, leaving you bereft and sad.
  • If you are anxious, the anxiety can make your thoughts race about all kinds of things, not always related to sex. However, the racing thoughts can cause you to lose focus on the sexual encounter, and make you feel sad afterwards when you realise your heart was not really in it.

Many researchers are of the opinion that fluctuating hormones and suppressed emotions are major role players in the phenomenon of post-coital dysphoria. If you have some of these symptoms and feel that you are not coping, studies suggest that you consider a visit to a therapist who is experienced in dealing with stress and anxiety issues.

Talking about it

Speaking about your sex life can be difficult for many people. It is after all the most personal part of one’s life. Most people do not even like to discuss those matters with their GP. Fortunately, if you are really struggling, there are trained professionals who can offer compassionate psychological help that can include dealing with anxiety, which is so often at the root of many emotional issues.

A competent therapist will be able to help you eliminate harmful thoughts which could be adding fuel to your PCD issues.

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