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Why do some people cry after sex?

Why do some people cry after sex?

Whenever 26-year-old animation student Amber* has sex with another person, she cries. “Sometimes it’s just an urge to cry. Sometimes it’s a little sniffle. Other times it’s totally ugly crying. I’ve had sex maybe twice without breaking a tear out of hundreds of times,” she tells Mashable.

“I don’t think I’m always sad,” she explains. “It’s just a thing that happens and it’s become a joke between me and my partner. We talk about me crying after sex just like people talk about peeing after sex, it’s just standard procedure now that I’ll cry and then go to sleep.”

The 29-year-old copywriter Hannah* has a similar experience. “I don’t cry when I masturbate, but I can’t remember the last time I did [partnered] sex without crying I thought there might be some horrible unlocked trauma that I wasn’t aware of, but I guess I’m really just a little bit sensitive to all the feelings that come with sex. I’m a happy screamer, a tired screamer, even a hungry screamer. It makes sense that I would cry after orgasm to be honest. Maybe it’s because I’m an Aquarius,” she laughs.

What is postcoital dysphoria?

Clinical Psychologist and Sex Therapist, Dr. Caleb Jacobson – who also hosts the Sex Therapy Podcast Mashable explains that clinical crying during or after sex is called “postcoital dysphoria.”

“This refers to the feeling that you’re going to cry or be sad after sex,” he says. “However, I want to be clear that we are specifically talking about just crying or feeling emotionally overwhelmed after sex. I’m not talking about people who are in pain related to sex or who have experienced sexual violence. This is a completely different situation. Postcoital dysphoria only refers to people who have consensual sex and then become tearful or sad.”

“It makes sense that I cry after orgasm, to be honest. Maybe it’s because I’m an Aquarius.”

Crying during or after sex is more common than you might think. Jacobson tells Mashable, “There have been a few research studies looking at postcoital dysphoria, and while it’s more common in women, one study found that about four percent of men have experienced it at some point.” Postcoital dysphoria can be of a number reasons and it can be difficult to find out why.

Could it be underlying trauma?

Sex is a very individual, personal experience, and it’s impossible to generalize from a small set of fixed reasons why a person might cry after sex.

“If someone has ever experienced some sort of trauma in the past, those feelings could arise even after consensual, pleasurable sex,” explains Jacobson. “I once had a client who cried during sex, which she consented to and enjoyed, and she was so surprised by what happened. It was really shocking for her and she was trying to figure out what just happened. It was extremely emotional for her, and it turns out there was underlying trauma.”


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If crying after sex is accompanied by feelings of guilt or shame, it is worth exploring with a qualified sex therapist for any potential trauma or unresolved feelings that may be contributing to post-sex tears.

Hormonal changes can bring tears

Jacobson also notes that if you’re going through certain changes that come with hormonal shifts in your life, like pregnancy, puberty, or menopause, that could be behind the crying. “Having a doctor chart your hormones is a good way to see where you are hormonally in general, but especially if you cry a lot after sex,” he says.

In other cases, people who cry after sex may actually be happy. It’s not uncommon for people to succumb to happy emotions that lead to tears. When we think about how many people weep at weddings, or when they receive a truly thoughtful gift, it’s not far-fetched to think that someone could weep from truly gorgeous, earth-shattering sex.

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“I think whatever the situation, it has a lot to do with the fact that our bodies are just extremely overwhelmed,” he explains. “There’s a lot of things that happen with reaction and arousal when we’re having sex. There are hormones that are released in the body, such as oxytocin, a bonding hormone. So if you’re feeling extremely emotional, right, oxytocin has a lot to do with it.

He adds that sex also releases dopamine in the body, which releases endorphins. And we get a bucket load of it when we orgasm. “Orgasm also slows down our parasympathetic nervous system, which causes us to feel tired, and a lot of people are a little more emotional when they’re tired, right? That’s why we’re so prone to telling deep stories overnight,” explains Jacobson.

The emotions behind the sex we have

Of course, sex also affects more areas of our lives than we think. Society doesn’t want us to think too much about sex, so we tend to isolate ourselves and keep sex separate from anything else in our lives that is considered more important, like work and family life. But the reality is that sex is deeply connected to our work, our family (yes, sorry), the way we understand ourselves, the way we understand our world, and the way we understand other people is intertwined. Jacobson says that for this reason, “a moving sexual experience can evoke feelings we have about ourselves, our partners, our worldview, etc.”

“This shift from hating the body to giving and receiving joy in and from it can be very emotional. That in itself can make you cry.”

“It’s one of the reasons I (if you will) ‘prescribe’ masturbation to clients with poor body image and low self-esteem. When they realize that their body can give them pleasure, they start appreciating their body more. Hating your body for giving and receiving pleasure can be very emotional. That alone can make you cry,” he says.

House manager Ellen*, 31, tells Mashable that she also often cries when she has sex, but it wasn’t always like that. “When I was younger, I never cried after sex, but I did have pretty mundane sex, too. I used to never have an orgasm with guys in my 20s and it was rare that I ever really felt pleasure.”


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Ellen started counseling sessions to process her complicated feelings about being queer. “I’m pansexual but I’ve always been in relationships with men and I felt really devalued in terms of my identity and sexuality and I didn’t feel right about talking to my boyfriend about it,” she explains.

Therapy has really helped Ellen connect more with her identity. “I got rid of the idea that you have to have a certain amount of sex with certain people in order to ‘qualify’ as gay. After about three months of the sessions, I felt more comfortable with myself. And oddly enough, I would start crying all the time after sex, definitely if I had had therapy that same day.”

“I think my brain just needed it,” she adds. “It wasn’t like I was sad. It was like a second orgasm.”

Crying after sex, as dramatic as it may seem at first, isn’t necessarily a bad thing. You may be crying because you are a little tired, hungry, particularly sensitive to hormonal changes in your body, or just having a good time. Healthy.

*Names have been changed at the request of the contributors

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