The thought of crying after sex may seem daunting, embarrassing, or just plain weird to a lot of folk. But in actuality, it’s more common than you may think! In fact, it’s perfectly natural to cry after sex… for a number of reasons! But before we dive into them, let’s discuss the ins and outs of this occurrence.
The act of crying after sex is called postcoital dysphoria (PCD) or postcoital tristesse (PCT). And because there’s little research on it, it’s hard to say how many people have, or continue to, experience it.
But, despite the lack of research, one study conducted on 230 females actually found that it is quite prevalent, with 46% of those studied admitting to have experienced PCD at least once in their lifetime.
A different research team focused on the prevalence of PCD in males. They found that 41% of participants admitted to experiencing PCD at least once in their lifetime, with 3–4% having it be a recurring experience.
Which brings us to the next big question some may have…
Why Do I Cry After Sex?
According to marriage and family therapist, Laura Petiford:
“Sex may be the trigger for the tears, but it’s not necessarily about sex. Some of the factors that correlate with PCD include a disturbance of early bonding experiences with caregivers, difficulty developing a strong sense of self, struggling to regulate emotions, a history of sexual or other abuse, or relationship dissatisfaction.”
In this case, one’s subconscious may come into play after sex as a means to make one aware that there is something that needs to be processed. This is only one possibility though. PCD may also be due to feelings of…
Crying after sex doesn’t have to be a bad thing. It could simply be the release of happy tears, like when you’re totally connected with your partner—body, mind, and soul—or when you’ve just had the best sex of your life.
“Crying after an intense orgasmic release is a great reason to cry,” says clinical sexologist, Claudia Six. “It may just be an additional release of energy, or joy and gratitude at having had such an ecstatic feeling. You can feel out of control, but it’s a release of tension.”
Being Mentally or Physically Overwhelmed
Sometimes when one engages in something intense or new, such as role playing or a different kind of sexual fantasizing, it can be an overwhelming experience when it comes to an end.
The journey itself creates a kind of roller coaster full of various emotions. As one goes from feelings of anticipation to arousal to intrigue then eventually coming back down to earth, the thrill itself can cause tears.
Physically, experiencing something new or more intense than usual could bring about a crying response. For example, if you squirt for the first time, experience your strongest climax yet, or have multiple orgasms.
Adversely, you could have built up sexual excitement so much that the experience itself doesn’t meet your expectations. This could lead to frustration and perhaps tears.
Then, there is also the role that one’s hormones play during sex. For example, when one climaxes, dopamine and oxytocin are released (the “love” hormones). After sex, these levels drop, which could cause feelings of sadness or isolation.
While there isn’t much research to indicate that those who’ve experienced past abuse are more prone to crying after sex, there has been a lot of research that says that emotional, physical and/or sexual abuse in childhood can lead to sexual dysfunction in adulthood.
In this way, sex could pose as a trigger for some, making them feel exposed and vulnerable. Following this, memories of traumatic experiences, or even displaying an emotional response due to the trauma before they’ve consciously acknowledged these memories, may occur.
Conditions such as dyspareunia (pain during penetration) can occur in around 8% of women. And while this condition could be either physical or mental in nature, it results in some unpleasant side effects during or after sex such as pain around the vulva and labia, inflammation of the pelvis, lack of lubrication, muscle spasms or bladder problems.
To relieve some of this discomfort, women could consider changing their diet which could remove or reduce bladder problems, go for regular massages for muscle spasm or engage in meditation, which could create a calmer disposition, mentally and physically.
Underlying Relationship Issues
Sometimes, it’s possible to sob after sex because of issues that are plaguing an individual inside or outside of the bedroom. Sex can be an intimate act that may bring underlying feelings and emotions to the surface.
As Six says, crying after sex “can be due to engaging in sex that didn’t feel good to her, physically or emotionally—or maybe she’s not with the partner she’d like to be with.”
Pent Up Emotions
As mentioned, an orgasm has the power to create drastic changes in one’s mind and body. For some, an orgasm can be stress or emotional release.
Sex coach, Gigi Engle, describes her experience with PCD by saying:
“Every time I orgasmed, it was like I was releasing the deep emotional anguish of my failing relationship. It was sorrowful, painful, and depressing. Instead of riding a wave of pleasure, I would roll over and quietly weep until I fell asleep, lost in my own head and heartache.”
In this way, allowing oneself to cry after sex can sometimes be healing. It’s actively letting go of pent-up emotions and allowing them to dissipate. Of course, this isn’t always the case for those who experience PCD.
Stress, Fear, and Anxiety
No matter what the experience, crying is generally a normal response to anxiety and fear. But when one is plagued with stress during intercourse, it can be hard to “switch off” and really focus on the here-and-now.
During sex, one’s body might be in the act, while the mind wanders. This could very well lead to frustration and even more anxiety after sex, causing one to cry.
Points of stress could be sex-related, such as having performance anxiety (which a study revealed affects around 6–15% of women and 9–25% of men). In fact, a link has been found between men who experience stressful sexual issues, such as erectile dysfunction and PCD.
Crying after sex due to stress or anxiety could also be completely unrelated to intercourse.
Guilt and Shame Surrounding Sex
There are a number of reasons why someone may have feelings of guilt and/or shame when it comes to sex. Perhaps they were taught growing up that sex was dirty, bad, or wrong. Maybe their religion leads them to believe that it is a shameful act (before marriage) or that one has had negative sexual experiences in the past which has caused them to feel embarrassed or guilty.
It could also be more of an internal struggle, such as battling with self-confidence or body issues, or feeling as though the kinds of sexual acts one is interested in don’t align with their values or morals. All of these reasons signify a negative relationship to sex and could be a reason why one cries after sex.
On the opposite side of the spectrum, there is such a thing called “dacryphilia”. This is when someone gains arousal from seeing someone else cry, or seeing another display an emotional release that accompanies crying.
Can Seeing Someone Else Cry Trigger Arousal?
According to a small study conducted by Mark D. Griffiths Ph.D., and his colleague Richard Greenhill, 3 different reasons were identified when it came to why tears may induce arousal.
Their study consisted of only 8 test subjects in the U.S., which doesn’t make for a big or global conclusion on the matter, but still provides some insight.
In their study, it was found that 4 of their test subjects primarily expressed their dacryphiliac tendencies in the form of compassion i.e. they enjoyed comforting criers. Three test subjects gained their arousal from the idea of dominance/submission i.e. making someone cry or having someone else make them cry. And 1 test subject found that their arousal was brought on by the action of someone curling their lip during crying.
Having said that, there’s yet to be more expansive research on the matter.
Either way, the act of crying is a normal human response to an array of different stimuli. Crying after sex happens and it’s not something to be ashamed about. Instead, digging deeper to find out the underlying reason for the crying may just make one emotionally stronger and perhaps more sexually satisfied.