What is post-coital dysphoria?

Anthony Golden
What is post-coital dysphoria?

In general, there is a contemporary tendency to flee from those unpleasant feelings, repressing our emotions on many occasions. But sadness is also necessary. We demand ourselves to be happy and we are losing the ability to become frustrated and sad.

That is why sadness after sex surprises us. Sexual activity is considered by the vast majority of people as a desired and pleasant activity. Even so, for some people the opposite happens and feelings of discomfort arise after the sexual act.

This desolation occurs regardless of the degree of satisfaction of the sexual relationship, since it can be completely pleasant and desired by the person who suffers it. It can be suffered by both men and women and is independent of age. Although it is called “depression”, it is actually a feeling of sadness and desolation that usually disappears in minutes and, very rarely, lasts over time..


  • Possible causes of dysphoria
    • Influence of the amygdala
    • Psychological theories
  • Can dysphoria be fixed?
    • Petting
    • To sleep
    • Chat
    • References

Possible causes of dysphoria

Although its causes are not known, experts have two possible hypotheses to explain it, the first is that this depression after intercourse is related to the activity of the amygdala. This is a gland whose function is to regulate emotions such as fear, anguish or anxiety. During sex this gland stops working, once the orgasm is released, the gland is activated again, and it seems that this sudden functioning of the amygdala causes that feeling of sadness to be experienced.

Another reason is the perception we each have of sex, this means that people who do not have a positive idea of ​​sex are more likely to have this type of reaction. The cause is because within them an internal conflict is brewing between what they have felt and what they think.

This type of sadness can last from several minutes to even several days, it will depend on the person and at the moment they are.

Influence of the amygdala

Based on the theory developed by Richard Friedman (2009), these feelings of dejection are related to the activity of the amygdala. The amygdala is a gland that regulates emotions such as fear or anguish and its activity practically disappears during sexual intercourse. After orgasm, activity levels return to return and this sudden increase in activity could lead to feelings of sadness and anguish. Thus during sex, we inhibit those thoughts that worry us or cause discomfort, but after the encounter it works again to remind us that the problem is still there. An example would be couples with problems, who after sex the problems that had been inhibited, reappear.

Psychological theories

There are theories that explain that this feeling may be an unconscious way of suffering the separation that occurs after the enormous union that the sexual act means. During sex, the emotions and sensations are very intense and the union is complete. When the relationship ends and the separation of this idealization of the union disappears and that is when the feelings of sadness invade.

There is also a theory that dysphoria occurs due to the person's beliefs regarding sex. The psychiatrist Debby Herbenick relates it to confused feelings due to the education received, its beliefs and influences. If sex is seen as a conflict, we are more likely to suffer depressive episodes due to the guilt that we are involved in the act.

In the case of men, the psychiatrist Anthony Stone attributes it to the absence of a purpose after the sexual encounter. For these men the end of sex is orgasm, once achieved, the purpose disappears and in its place a feeling of emptiness remains..

Can dysphoria be fixed?

Although each case is unique and it is always advisable to visit a therapist, a series of general measures can be taken so that this sadness affects our intimate relationships as little as possible.


Once the sex is finished it is important to spend a few minutes with the couple, it is a more affectionate moment, with caresses and kisses.

To sleep

It can be used to sleep hugging the person next to you, that makes us feel loved and our self-esteem will be increased.


Once relaxed, you can talk quietly with your partner, so it will be more difficult to fall into negative thoughts.

The idea is to promote bonds with our partner after sexual intercourse and not feel bad if it appears. And if the discomfort is deep or lasts over time, going to a good therapist can be of great help. There may be deeper factors, such as child abuse or other traumas, that would promote this dysphoria and should be worked on in therapy.


Herbenick, D., Reece, M., Sanders, SA, Schick, V., Dodge, B., and Fortenberry, JD (2010). Sexual behavior in the United States: results from a national probability sample of men and women ages 14 to 94. Journal of Sexual Medicine, 7 (suppl. 5), 255-265.

Herbenock, D. Sex Made Easy: Your Awkward Questions Answered - For Better, 2012. Smarter, Amazing Sex

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