Feeling emotional after sex may be a stereotypical story-line for women, but new research suggests men also get the post-sex blues.
According to a recent report published in the Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy, the study revealed 41 per cent of men had post-coital dysphoria (PCD) in their lifetime and 20 per cent experienced it weeks before taking the survey.
PCD or the post-sex blues, is a deep feeling of sadness or agitation after consensual sex, the International Society for Sexual Medicine notes. Some may experience depression or cry after an orgasm, while others pick fights with their partners.
There isn’t much research on the topic, the sites notes, but previous reports from Queensland University of Technology in Australia found 46 per cent of women said they had PCD in the past.
The 2018 survey — that talked to 1,208 men from counties like the U.S., the U.K. and Australia — also found four per cent of participants had PCD regularly.
“If we are to extrapolate from what we know about PCD in women, we would propose a biopsychosocial model, as there seem to be a range of factors including genetic susceptibility, possible hormonal factors and potentially, psychological factors which we do not understand at this time,” study co-author Prof. Robert Schweitzer told the Independent. “We don’t think it is about the relationship, but something more complex.”
“This means looking at the biological, psychological, and social factors at play,” she said. “It may be worthwhile to see a doctor to test for hormone levels. It’s also valuable to look at whether or not you experience this kind of dysphoria elsewhere in your life, after other intense experiences, after a heightened state of pleasure, or just in general.”
Claire AH, a Toronto-based LGBTQ+ and straight matchmaker, said based on the fact that PCD most likely stems from multiple factors, a biopsychosocial approach is best when it comes to combating it.
It could also mean reflecting on your partner and sex life. “Are you experiencing any complicated feelings like guilt or shame about intimacy, pleasure, your body, your relationship?” she said. “For instance, do you feel like your needs are being listened to and integrated into your sex life? Investigating these feelings with your partner(s) or a professional is a good next step for addressing the psychological and social issues associated with PCD.”
It’s also good to assess how you feel.
“If you’re experiencing chronic or disruptive negative affect after sex, or if you find that the feelings linger through the rest of your day or beyond, it may be time to consider talking to a professional. It’s also generally wise to look out for changes to your usual demeanour, as that may indicate a shift in a physiological, psychological, or social state.”
Commuting with your partner
And while society may dictate us to believe masculine men can’t be emotional post-sex, Claire said we need to keep the lines of communication with our partners open.
“It’s important to foster a relationship that doesn’t adhere as strongly to traditional gender norms, as they foster stereotypes and impede open communication. Bring up the feelings you experience after sex when you are a little bit removed from the situation, and open the conversation up to hear what they’re feeling and needing after sex as well,” she explained.
“Depending on whether or not your feelings and needs match up or play against each other, you may or may not need to compromise a bit, but it’s important to address these negative feelings.”
She also recommends aftercare: engaging in soothing behavior following PCD.
“Aftercare doesn’t always have to be intimate and touchy-feely. It can actually be predicated on alone time and possibly coming back together to debrief,” she continued. “Ask yourself what might make you feel better in the moment and propose a few attempts. Just as we shouldn’t feel afraid to verbalise what we want during sex, we should be empowered to state our needs after sex.”