Understanding Post-Sex Dysphoria: Coping with Negative Emotions After Sex

Understanding Post-Sex Dysphoria: Coping with Negative Emotions After Sex

For many people, sex can be a deeply satisfying and pleasurable experience. However, in some cases, an individual may experience negative emotions shortly after consensual sexual activity or orgasm. This phenomenon is known as postcoital dysphoria, sometimes colloquially known as postcoital blues or postcoital blues.

Postcoital dysphoria is characterized by feelings of sadness, anxiety, or irritability immediately following pleasurable sexual intercourse. Also, a feeling of wakefulness that men, especially, may feel after reaching orgasm. These two phenomena represent different emotional experiences associated with sexual activity.

What Is Postcoital Dysphoria?

While postcoital dysphoria is not a new concept, having been observed throughout history by the likes of Greek writer Galen and philosopher Baruch Spinoza, for those who have experienced it, it Still a confusing experience. What's particularly confusing, Dr. Melancon says, is that postcoital dysphoria often occurs after sexual encounters in otherwise healthy and satisfying relationships, adding to the complexity of this emotional phenomenon.

Sexual Response Cycle

To understand postcoital dysphoria, it may be helpful to explore the sexual response cycle, a conceptual framework originally proposed by William Masters and Virginia Johnson. The cycle consists of four main phases:

1. to inspire
2. Plateau
3. Orgasm
4. Resolution

Postcoital dysphoria presents as an atypical response to the resolution phase, in which physiological processes return to baseline after orgasm. Despite its significance, research on postcoital dysphoria remains limited, and its exact cause remains uncertain. Experts believe that a combination of psychological, hormonal and environmental factors may be responsible for this phenomenon.

Symptoms Of Restlessness After Sex

Postcoital dysphoria covers a wide range of negative emotions that individuals may experience after consensual and other positive sexual encounters. Its defining feature is the onset of unfavorable feelings immediately after a sexual experience.

Common Symptoms Of Restlessness After Sex May Include:

1. Sad or depressed mood, often accompanied by crying
2. Irritability after sexual activity
3. Feelings of anxiety or panic after sexual intercourse
4. Irritability and anger after sex
5. Feeling confused and ashamed about these challenging emotions
6. Blaming yourself for negative reactions to sexual encounters
7. Feelings of fatigue and low mood

Research shows that post-coital dysphoria is more common in women than in men. Nearly half of women (46%) have experienced post-coital dysphoria at some point in their lives, with 5% experiencing it in the past month, according to results of an online survey published in Sexual Medicine. Condition.

While there is limited research comparing how men and women experience post-coital dysphoria, overall, women are more likely to report feelings of sadness and depression associated with this phenomenon.

Causes Of Irritability After Sex

The exact cause of postcoital dysphoria is still under investigation, and limited data are available. It is important to realize that the lack of a clear rationale does not diminish the reality and impact of the experience.

While the exact triggers of postcoital dysphoria remain unknown, researchers have identified several factors that may increase the likelihood of developing the condition:

1. History of physical abuse
2. History of emotional abuse
3. Relationship dissatisfaction

The intimate nature of sex and its potential to evoke strong emotions. Various hormones released during sexual activity and orgasm may exacerbate emotional reactions, especially in individuals with a history of abuse or ongoing relationship problems.

How To Deal With Post-sex Restlessness

If you find yourself experiencing post-sex dysphoria, it's important to realize that you're not alone and that there are strategies to cope with these feelings and possibly reduce their frequency and intensity.

Here are some tips experts recommend for dealing with post-sex dysphoria:

1. Accept Your Emotions

Embrace and acknowledge your emotions, no matter how challenging they are. It is recommended to practice being with your emotions without judging or resisting them, recognizing that they are temporary and allowing them to flow through you.

2. Explore Your Feelings

It is recommended to delve deeper into the root causes of post-sex dysphoria by asking yourself specific questions. Consider whether this happens in certain situations or with specific sexual partners, whether you feel ambivalent before sex, and how soon after sex the dysphoria begins.

It’s important to approach these coping strategies with self-compassion and seek support from a mental health professional when needed. Everyone's experience is unique, and finding the right coping mechanisms may require a process of self-discovery and experimentation.

3. Keep a Diary

Journaling can be a valuable tool for people dealing with post-coital anxiety. Keep a journal to track experiences and identify any patterns that may emerge. This process could reveal insights, such as whether dysphoria occurs more frequently after conflict, during specific phases of the menstrual cycle (for women), or during periods of high stress. All data collected through diaries contribute to a better understanding of personal experiences.

4. Practice Mindfulness and Meditation

Another helpful practice is mindfulness and meditation. Being mindful and living in the present moment can help you fully process your emotions when they arise. By paying attention to the emotions being felt and the physical sensations in the body, individuals can reduce the intensity of the emotions and facilitate their release over time.

A woman on a mat connecting mindfulness and meditation

5. Post-coital Care

Implementing post-sex self-care measures can help reduce the intensity of post-sex dysphoria. These self-care activities can be personalized and include your partner if comfortable. Some suggestions for self-care after sex include:

1. Take a hot bath: Enjoying a soothing warm bath after sex can be relaxing and comforting.

2. Wrap yourself in a blanket: Wrapping yourself tightly in a blanket, like a human burrito, creates a cozy environment that can provide a sense of security and warmth.

3. Listen to music: Choosing music that brings you comfort or pleasure is a simple and effective way to enhance your post-sex experience.

4. Use essential oils: Using calming essential oils can create a calming atmosphere and aid relaxation.

5. Massage: A gentle massage, done on your own or with the help of a partner, can promote physical and emotional relaxation.

These self-care practices are designed to be adaptable and can be customized to personal preference and comfort. The key is to establish a post-sex routine that creates a positive, soothing environment for emotional well-being.

At Last

It's normal to experience occasional post-sex dysphoria, but if it happens frequently and is seriously affecting your sex life and overall health, it may be helpful to seek professional help. When symptoms significantly affect your quality of life, it is recommended to consult a therapist.

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