Post-coital dysphoria: sadness after sex

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Louise Hay
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Post-coital dysphoria: sadness after sex

Have you ever suffered from postcoital dysphoria in your life? Perhaps the solution to this ailment lies in a well-known antidepressant.

Last update: February 17, 2020

Those suffering from post-coital dysphoria feel enormous sadness after sexual intercourse, comparable to a depression. The duration of this state can vary from a few minutes to a few hours.

Anna confesses that she has sex with her husband roughly three times a week. On at least two of these occasions, she feels very sad after intercourse is over. Anna cannot explain the meaning of this state of deep sadness that pervades her.



She likes to have relationships with her husband, to whom she feels very attracted, for this reason she cannot understand why, once the relationship is over, she feels a deep inner emptiness. A sensation that can last even a couple of hours.

Feeling sad after sexual intercourse

What Anna feels has a name; specialists call it postcoital sadness and it is a dysphoria following the sexual act, not to be confused with depression. The latter may however be a consequence of postcoital dysphoria.

Some sexologist experts argue that the reason for this sadness lies in the fact that the sexual act satisfies only our biological part and not the emotional one. A consideration that does not definitively answer the question of why you suffer from this disorder. In fact, it could simply be the reaction of some people to the accumulation of biochemical excesses following orgasm.

Dr. Richard A. Friedman, professor of clinical psychiatry and director of a psychopharmacological clinic, has recently become interested in this topic due to the high number of patients who, in recent years, they went to his clinic because they were suffering from this disorder.


The first patient was a 25-year-old young man who, following intercourse, needed a full day to recover from sadness. His health was excellent (both mental and physical) and he had no major problems in other areas of his life.

As the doctor comments, “I could have given a very simple explanation for the disorder. I could have told the patient that she was using sex to hide her inner conflicts or that his feelings about her partner were ambivalent. Instead I have not found a certain explanation. As real as his pain was, I told him he didn't suffer from a problem that required treatment. "

What is the cause of postcoital dysphoria?

Several studies have shown that there is a sharp decline in amygdala activity during orgasm. The amygdala is an area of ​​the brain that deals with processing stimuli such as fear.

Recently, Helen Fisher of the University of Rutgers used MRI to examine the neuronal circuit that activates in people in love. The results of this study allow us to state that in seeing a photo of the partner there is a brain activation in the circuit of dopaminergic neurons.

This means that in addition to causing pleasure, sex decreases anxieties and fears. The question we ask ourselves is therefore the following: is this center of activity the cause of the dysphoria? Could reaching such a high neuronal release cause a consequent state of sadness?

According to other scholars, post-coital dysphoria instead has to do with enhancement of the partner at the end of sex. In some cases, this enhancement generates a feeling of inner emptiness. As much as some people crave the sexual act, soon afterward they grieve because they don't make sense of it.


This lack may be due to having engaged in sexual intercourse out of obligation towards the partner or to compensate for an emotional lack. According to the psychologist Raùl Carvajal “there is a biological compensation that leaves our emotional part unsatisfied. I think it has to do with the context in which we live, in which we are often pushed to do everything quickly, just to do ".

Postcoital dysphoria can be treated with medication

Dr. Friedman, convinced that this disorder may be caused by the activity of the amygdala, suggests taking a few doses of Fluoxetine, a well-known antidepressant, as a solution.

His patients admit that, despite a drop in pleasure during sex and a drop in libido caused by the antidepressant, they finally stopped feeling sad. Perhaps, sexual problems do not always hide a psychological disorder.


However, it is still true that the most important sexual organ of the human being is the brain. Sex will also be the physical act par excellence, but sadness has profoundly physiological roots. In any case, whatever the cause of post-coital dysphoria, it is clear that this phenomenon is real and an answer to all the questions concerning it has not yet been found.

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