Why Do I Feel Sad After Sex?

Jan 7, 2022
Why Do I Feel Sad After Sex?

Mind-blowing orgasms and euphoric sex can contribute to us feeling good, thanks to a release of dopamine and an increase of serotonin. But what goes up must come down, so what about the subtle sadness that can happen post sex or solo masturbation? Post-coital tristesse (PCT) to some, post-coital dysphoria (PCD) to others, there is documented evidence suggesting that it dates all the way back to the Roman Empire. And yet it’s a topic that seems to stay under the sex radar.

According to Gail Saltz, MD, associate professor of psychiatry at the NY Presbyterian Hospital Weill-Cornell School of Medicine, symptoms of PCT range from sadness to anger. The feeling can be fleeting or last for a couple of hours, and can happen whether you’ve had an orgasm or not. A 2020 study showed that PCT can occur post consensual sex, as well as masturbation. An earlier study revealed that 46% of female students surveyed had experienced PCT at least once since becoming sexually active (including self-pleasure).

How does PCT affect some of us? The sexperts have identified a couple of reasons


Sex and masturbation is basically a bunch of hormones having a big party. Right after people with vaginas orgasm, the hormone prolactin is released with the aim of helping the body to settle down. This is thought to contribute to a feeling of emptiness post orgasm.

More post sex cuddles

Some pillow talk after the event is a nice moment to communicate, whether it’s a friends with benefits situation or a monogamous relationship, as it can increase the emotional intimacy of what has just happened. Without some post sex care, it is understandable that one could feel lonely or vulnerable.

Bad sex 

It happens. A hookup that wasn’t as hot as you’d expected or an off night with your partner. It is ok to feel dissatisfied or sad about this.

 Men can experience PCT too

Research shows that men are also affected by PCT: 41% of surveyed men admitted to having felt it at least once in their lifetime. It is interesting to note that the study also revealed that men experience PCT with anger or frustration, compared to women who describe feeling more melancholic.

While you can’t control biology and how it affects your body, it helps to know what is happening. If you have experienced PCT, you are not alone. If you find yourself regularly experiencing PCT then professional guidance may be something to consider. If you know someone experiencing PCT, show them sensitivity and be a friendly shoulder to lean on.



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