Sex usually goes with moaning, shaking, screaming, and maybe even squirting, but sometimes it can also make you cry — why is that?
What Is Post-Coital Dysphoria
Post-coital dysphoria (PCD), post-coital tristesse (PCT), crymaxing, post-sex blues — all these terms refer to crying after sex. Tears during or after sex may be out of happiness, sadness, or relief. It may be PCD if you experience tearfulness, sadness, anxiety or irritability after sex. PCD may still occur even if the sex is consensual, satisfying, and intimate. Anyone can experience it regardless of age, gender, and sexual orientation.
In a study conducted in 2015, researchers found that nearly half of the participants experience PCD — it’s actually pretty common. There isn’t much research yet about this experience, but researchers believe that PCD may be brought about by various emotions.
What Causes Post-Coital Dysphoria
Sex involves intense emotions, intimacy, and being vulnerable. For most, sex is a private and deep experience, while it can also be casual and a one-time thing for some. Just as people may have different ways of enjoying sex, people may also have various ways of responding after their orgasm or sexual activity.
During the resolution phase of the sexual response cycle, people may experience a wide range of emotional and behavioral responses, including PCD. Some of the feelings related to PCD are sadness, anxiety, agitation, or aggression, and some may also be positive feelings — but all of them may result in bursting into tears.
Crying can be evoked by different emotions, and not all of them are bad. It’s often called “crymaxing” when they’re tears of joy after sex (Scrubs fans might know this). Maybe it was your best sex ever, your love for your partner is immense, or your anticipation to have sex has finally been satisfied after so long.
Are you currently going through anything that bothers you and makes you sad? Crying frequently could also be a sign of depression. PCD is common among those with postpartum depression, which might be caused by the rapid fluctuation of hormone levels.
Crying after sex may be a sign that you need to unearth and process something from your past. It’s important to not dismiss these things or think of them as unimportant.
Mixed signals, unresolved issues, and emotional confusion can affect your sex life. Sometimes sex isn’t as great as you expected it to be, which might lead to confusion and disappointment.
It’s natural for stress, anxiety, and fear to evoke crying. Anything that makes you feel anxious is difficult to keep away from your mind during sex.
Some might feel shame or guilt for enjoying sexual acts, especially with society labeling sex as taboo or dirty. Feeling shame or guilt may also sprout from other issues within the relationship.
Dyspareunia refers to painful intercourse, which includes pain during or after the act. Medications, trauma or irritation of the genitals, medical conditions, and lack of lubrication can make sex painful.
The brain releases oxytocin — often called the “love hormone” — after an orgasm. This hormone promotes trust, empathy, and connection, and make you feel safe and vulnerable. Laughter or crying may be evoked by these emotions from releasing pent-up feelings.
Crying may also be a part of reducing tension or intense physical arousal. Releasing all that suppressed sexual energy can make you burst into tears especially if it’s been a long time since you last had sex,
What You Can Do About It
For any physical pain associated with sex, it’s best to contact your doctor to have it checked and treated. Talking to your partner about it can also make the both of you enjoy sex without pain and discomfort — sex should be enjoyable and pleasurable!
If you experience PCD, try to assess what made you cry — are you sad, anxious, overwhelmed, or relieved? Are the tears because of anything physical or emotional? What were the things going through your mind when you started crying? Did crying help you feel relieved?
If your crying was caused by physical pleasure and the overwhelming feeling of love, then there’s nothing to worry about.
If emotions or issues within the relationship are what made you cry, have a deeper assessment of your feelings. Talking to your partner about what you feel and what you like and dislike may help you have a stronger relationship and more pleasurable sex.
If painful trauma or unpleasant experiences from the past come out of this process, it might be good to talk about it with your partner or a professional who can help you unearth unresolved emotions.
What You Can Do As A Partner
Crying after sex isn’t normally talked about, and is often startling for people who have partners that experience PCD.
As a partner, what you can do is to comfort and offer help in making them feel better. Encourage them to process their emotions and listen to what they have to say. It’s also important to not make them feel shame or embarrassment or invalidate their emotions. Comfort them in any way they want to, and respect what they feel and say.