Postcoital dysphoria: symptoms, causes and treatment

Sex is an activity which for the vast majority of people is enjoyable, being a desirable and satisfying experience under normal conditions. In general, we usually enjoy the whole process and once the interaction is over and we have reached an orgasm, a feeling of relaxation and satisfaction usually arises.

However, in some people there are feelings of sadness and anxiety after orgasm, and may appear this is called postcoital dysphoria or postcoital depression. It is on this concept that we will speak throughout this article.

    What is postcoital dysphoria?

    We speak of postcoital dysphoria or post-sexual depression in the syndrome characterized by the presence of sensations and feelings of sadness, melancholy and discomfort after orgasm. Anxiety, feelings of emptiness, restlessness, restlessness and irritability may also appear. This is a situation that usually appears after having sexWhile it can also appear after masturbation.

    Technically, it is considered to be a sexual dysfunction linked to the resolution phase, being a diagnostic label proposed for research in the face of possible incorporation into different diagnostic classifications. However, the diagnosis would only be possible if the dysphoria appeared in most sexual intercourse (not being a disorder if its occurrence was punctual and sporadic) and as long as it was not explicable by other disorders.

    It is important to keep in mind that this feeling is not the product of unsatisfactory intercourse, which may be entirely pleasurable for both parties and desired by the same person experiencing the dysphoria. Post-sexual depression (more like sadness and not really depression) usually appears immediately or soon after orgasm and it usually goes away within a few minutesAlthough it may take several days.

      Who suffers from it?

      This type of syndrome is not new and there are references since ancient times. While postcoital dysphoria has traditionally been viewed as something specific to women of a certain age, the truth is that it can appear in both sexes and at any age. It is apparently more common in women, although in general there have been few studies with men in this regard.

      Although this is usually an unrecognized syndrome, recent studies show that it is much more common than previously thought, varying the percentage affected depending on the study. In addition to postcoital dysphoria it may not always be present and it is normal for it to appear at specific times sporadically, only a problem when administered consistently over time. In some cases, it was observed that almost half of the participants admitted to having suffered from it at some point in their life.

      Symptoms and repercussions

      Postcoital dysphoria is, as we said, something little recognized socially, and can have repercussions on the sex life of those who suffer from it. Often his presence is experienced with discomfort and guilt on the part of the person who experiences it, considering that they must feel satisfied and not understand their own reactions. A possible fear of the existence of couple conflicts can also develop, even an avoidance of 1 hour of sexual contact can appear. It is also a situation which, like in other sexual dysfunctions, is often hidden and experienced with shame.

      Likewise, the sexual partner may feel incompetent or unwanted in the face of his partner’s reactions, and real conflicts and other sexual dysfunctions might also appear like sexual aversion.

      Possible causes

      An attempt has been made since ancient times to explain the onset of sexual dysphoria, both in terms of point appearance and in terms of consistent appearance.

      One of the theories in this regard refers to the fact that the causes of this disorder are mainly neurochemical: after orgasm, certain hormones are released that neutralize those responsible for sexual pleasure, and may appear sadness and bad mood. . . In this same sense, it has been observed that at the biological level the amygdala (which is related to anxiety and fear among other emotions) decreases its activity during sex, and dysphoria can appear as consequence of the reactivation of this part of the brain.

      Another theory, also consistent with the above, indicates that the onset of postcoital dysphoria may be related to the influence of a restrictive and religious upbringing, in which the idea of ​​sex and jouissance may have. been internalized. something sinful or criminalized.

      Another option is derived from experiencing traumatic situations such as child sexual abuse or violations, unconsciously associating the enjoyment of a normative and consensual relationship with what was experienced during the abusive experience and appearing sadness, anguish and even disgust with the actual enjoyment.

      There are also theories that say that sadness is due to the fact that the emotions of sadness and discomfort are due to the completion of the act of union with the couple. There may also be the possibility that the sadness is due to the presence of difficulties with the partner or the view that the relationship is based or supported solely on sex.


      At the level of the person and his partner, it is recommended that orgasm is not the end of all interaction between the members of the couple, and can enjoy activities such as cuddling or cuddling unless it causes a discomfort or discomfort for the dysphoric person. It’s about bonding after the sexual encounter. In any case, if it is something common, it can be useful to consult a psychologist or a sex therapist.

      Although not common, postcoital dysphoria may require psychological treatment. First the possible existence of organic alterations must be assessed. In the event of traumatic experiences, these could be worked out in consultation. Likewise, the presence of guilt or consideration regarding sex may need to be resolved. In the event that it is necessary or due to a couple conflict, it may be helpful to resort to couple therapy and sex therapy to encourage it.

      Bibliographical references:

      • Schweitzer, RD, O’Brien, J. and Burri, A. (2015). Postcoital dysphoria: prevalence and psychological correlates. Sex Med, 3: 229-237.
      • Burri, AV and Spector, TD (2011). An epidemiological investigation of postcoital psychological symptoms in a sample population of twins in the United Kingdom. Twin Res Hum Genet, 14: 240-248.

      Leave a Comment