Why It’s Actually Super Normal To Feel Anxious And Sad After Sex

Post-sex scenes in TV and movies are almost always flushed flirty affairs. The couple drops back onto the bed. They magically orgasm at the same time. 

You know, the fairy tale stuff? Post-sex moments, in reality, can be awkward, tense, or downright unhappy.

Feeling anxious and sad after sex is more normal than you might think. Here’s why.

News Flash: Depression And Anxiety Cause Depression And Anxiety

Shocking, I know, but your anxiety and depression might be contributing to your after-sex blues. Depression doesn’t go away because things get hot and heavy. 

Rather, sexual dysfunction and depression go hand in hand. People with depression have lower sex drives and greater feelings of sadness. 

Anxiety, too, is closely linked to sexual dysfunction. (“Dysfunction” is any problem with the sexual response cycle: desire, arousal, and orgasm.) For example, honeymoon impotence refers to poor sexual performance early in the marriage. 

It can be easy to forget about depression and anxiety in certain settings. Sex should be fun, so we assume our mental health will follow suit.

Another News Flash: It Might Be Hormones

Hormones are another sneaky suspect. These hormonal shifts can be subtle, but they’re incredibly powerful. 

Anyone with a period is familiar with hormonal shifts related to PMS. But fewer menstruating people know when, exactly, that PMS occurs. 

Premenstrual syndrome can occur up to two weeks before your period. And yes, I’ve done the math for us—that’s two weeks of PMS, another week of a period, and one “free” week. 

Studies have found a direct link between PMS and sexual distress. The release of progesterone tends to lead to sexual distress one or two days later. This occurs, you guessed it, in PMS’ early stages.

You Could Be Stuck In Your Head

Even those not diagnosed with depression and anxiety can experience similar symptoms of sadness. Feelings of stress and worry are surefire mood killers. 

Similarly, sexual repression at a young age can manifest in lots of ways. For example, vaginismus refers to the involuntary spasming of the vaginal muscles. 

Research shows a link between vaginismus and strict religious upbringings. Some religions consider sex shameful. Those feelings can easily bubble up after sex, even in someone far removed from that religion. 

Further, repression can occur in secular homes as well. If you were ever made to feel guilty about sex for any reason, then you might be at risk for post-sex anxiety.

Blame It On The Booze And Bud

Marijuana and alcohol are fairly commonplace in our culture. We associate them with having a good time and reducing inhibitions. 

However, weed and alcohol can do just the opposite. The active component of weed, THC, can increase feelings of anxiety. CBD, however, decreases anxiety. 

So, if you’re set on smoking before sex, try a CBD-heavy strain. The higher the THC content, the more likely you are to feel anxious. 

Alcohol is also great at killing the mood. Despite its close link to our dating culture, alcohol is a depressant. In large or prolonged quantities, alcohol can increase sexual distress.

You Might Have Post-Coital Dysphoria

PC-D refers to “inexplicable feelings of tearfulness, sadness, or irritability.” These feelings occur after sex, and it’s more common than you might think.

In a study sample of 223 women and 76 men, 73.5% reported feelings of PC-D after consensual sex. 41.9% reported those feelings after general sexual activity. Finally, 46.6% felt similarly after masturbation.

PC-D can occur even if the sexual encounter was loving and satisfying. It can be confusing for both partners, as the one experiencing PC-D might not realize it.

Symptoms of PC-D include shortness of breath and elevated heart rate. Genitals might shut down to stimuli. Individuals can also experience feelings of regret and sadness.

Your Body Might Not Feel Safe

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, your body might not feel safe. Let’s address current feelings of danger first. 

Our bodies can sense danger before our minds do. Emotional, mental, and physical abuse can all impact libido. If you feel unsafe with your partner, then it’s only natural to feel unsafe after sex. 

Image of couple in bed
(TORWAISTUDIO / Shutterstock)

It’s important to listen to your body and seek help when you can. Those post-sex blues might be hinting at a larger issue. 

On the other hand, you might have experienced abuse in the past that is manifesting today. Even with a loving sexual partner, your body might not allow itself to feel safe. 

PTSD affects the body in many ways, one of which is severe sexual dysfunction.

So, What Can You Do About It?

Treatment of your post-sex blues ultimately depends on the cause. And unfortunately, you might be feeling them for any number of these reasons. 

Generally, professional counseling is a great start. A licensed therapist can help with anxiety, depression, trauma, repression, and general stress. 

Your gyno should be able to help with any vaginal or birth control problems. And the best way to avoid substance-related issues is to, well, avoid the substances. 

Most importantly, if your post-sex blues seem to be related to present danger, seek help immediately. Call a friend, family member, or hotline. 

Post-sex blues sufferers know that sex should be fun. But it’s comforting to know that it can be fun.

With the right help and a bit of patience, you can enjoy a movie-worthy post-sex sesh with your boo.

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