Crying after sex? This is what it could mean

Is crying after sex "normal"? Here’s everything you need to know...

Woman lying in bed with her hands covering her face
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Crying after sex sounds pretty concerning but in reality, it’s a common reaction. Many of us have experienced a teary outburst, however big or small, right after an intimate encounter. While it’s no secret that sex can be an emotionally intense experience, what’s with the waterworks? 

Well for starters, there are several terms for post-sex crying, with the act also known as postcoital dysphoria (PCD), postcoital tristesse (the latter is French for melancholy), or simply post-sex blues. A lot happens in the body when you have an orgasm, which can trigger all sorts of physical reactions, most of which consist of euphoric moans, legs shaking after sex, and believe it or not, crying. It's a reaction seen across the spectrum—in women, men and in non-binary people. 

“Crying after sex, also known as postcoital dysphoria, is more common than most would think,” says Daniel Sher, clinical psychologist, and sex therapist at Between Us Clinic (opens in new tab). "A recent study (opens in new tab) found that just under half of all men experience this at least once. Postcoital dysphoria is equally common in women.” 

But why does this happen?

What causes crying after sex?

According to Daniel, there are several explanations for your post-sex sadness. “For starters, having sex means making yourself vulnerable, both physically and emotionally. This can result in a drop in happy hormones (oxytocin and dopamine) post-orgasm. Furthermore, for people who have depression or relationship issues, sexual intimacy can stir up earlier experiences of distress or abandonment, which can result in a dip in mood after the act,” he explains. 

The tears could also be a result of old feelings resurfacing following a familiar act. “Of course, if you experience physical pain during sex, or if you have previously been sexually assaulted, having sex can stir-up difficult experiences which may bring you to tears,” he adds. “People who experience sexual performance anxiety may also experience post-coital anxiety, as a result of the build-up and subsequent release of extreme emotional and physiological tension that occurs during sex.” 

This also makes a lot of sense, considering the fact that when you orgasm your brain releases a surge of dopamine, which can also trigger an emotional reaction. So next time you experience this, remember that it's not unusual. 

Sagal Mohammed

Sagal is a journalist, specialising in lifestyle, pop culture, fashion and beauty.  She has written for a number of publications including Vogue, Glamour, Stylist, Evening Standard, Bustle, You Magazine, Dazed and Wonderland to name a few.