An Australian study of 200 young women found that one out of three experience "postcoital blues" at some point, and 10% frequently feel sad after sex, according to LiveScience. We've actually discussed this before, but apparently there's hasn't been much scientific research on sadness and sex.

Even after this study, scientists still don't know was causes the post-boning blues. Lead author Robert Schweitzer of the Queensland Institute of Technology says:

"Under normal circumstances, the resolution phase of sexual activity, or period just after sex, elicits sensations of well-being, along with psychological and physical relaxation ... However, individuals who experience postcoital dysphoria [sadness] may express their immediate feelings after sexual intercourse in terms of melancholy, tearfulness, anxiety, irritability or feeling of restlessness."

The research found only a moderate correlation between past sexual abuse and these emotions, and one subject said the sadness had nothing to do with her feelings for her partner. "This suggests other factors, such as biological predisposition, may be more important," said Schweitzer.


Two years ago in the New York Times, Dr. Richard A. Friedman wrote about the phenomenon after several of his patients reported experiencing a "period of intense depression and irritability after an orgasm." He speculated that the cause may be an intense rebound in the amygdala, the part of the brain that controls fear and anxiety, which has a decrease in activity during sex. Friedman tried treating his patients with antidepressants and they reported, "while sex was less intensely pleasurable, no emotional crash followed."

Both Friedman and Schweitzer suggested more research is needed, but I already conducted my own highly scientific study after experiencing the problem years ago (i.e. asking a more experienced lady friend "what the hell was that?" the next day). While frequently feeling sad after sex may call for the antidepressant treatment (though that sounds kind of awful) for occasional bouts of post-coital weepiness, it seems Friedman had it right when he said the brief depression may be "no more significant than a quirk of biology." It's disconcerting, but it seems that occasionally while you're in the throes of passion, your brain checks out and watches that Sarah McLachlan ASPCA commercial.

Post-Sex Blues Plague A Third of Young Women, Study Suggests [LiveScience]
Sex and Depression: In The Brain, If Not The Mind [NYT]


Earlier: Postcoital Depression: When The Afterglow Is An Aftergloom

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