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SEXUAL HEALTH

What It Means If You Cry After Sex

You're completely normal, we promise.

What It Means If You Cry After Sex

 Sex is supposed to be a fun, pleasurable, and hopefully liberating activity. And if you’ve ever experienced a sudden burst of tears post-coitus, you’re not alone.

Crying after sex doesn’t necessarily mean you’re sad—in fact, it’s sometimes a happy release of emotion (coined, “crymaxing”).

On the flip side, those tears can come with intense, negative emotions. In scientific terms, this is typically referred to as postcoital dysphoria (PCD) or postcoital tristesse (from the French word for “sadness”). 

What Is Postcoital Dysphoria?

According to PsychCentral, “postcoital dysphoria is a condition where you feel sad, anxious, or irritable after sex.

Symptoms of PCD can include the following:

  • Depression
  • Crying
  • Anxiety
  • Irritation or aggression
  • Regret or guilt
  • Shame
  • Numbness or emptiness
  • Panic attacks

Is Crying After Sex Normal?

"With the 'letting go' that happens with orgasm, there can also be a letting go of emotions. For some people, that can involve crying," says Dr. Marie Tudor, a medical sexologist.

While more research needs to be done on the topic, PCD seems fairly common. Results from a 2019 survey of 1,208 men found that 41% have experienced PCD in their lifetime, while 20.2% had experienced it in the previous four weeks. 

Another survey from 2020 of 223 women and 76 men found that 91.9% reported postcoital symptoms over the past four weeks and 94.3% since they had been sexually active. The most common symptoms women experienced were mood swings and sadness, whereas in men, it was unhappiness and low energy.

What Causes Crying After Sex?

Reasons for tearing up after sex range from emotional to physical.

Happiness

“The emotional bond between you and your partner could trigger tears of joy or an overwhelming sense of love,” says Dr. Tantry of Flo.health

“I cry during sex, but it’s because it’s so intense and feels so freaking good. I can’t control it. When it feels good, I cry,” one person said of their experience in a survey in the Journal of Sexual and Mental Health.

Sadness

On the flip side, you might find yourself crying sad tears when that intensity levels out, as the transition can be jarring. 

“Once you break that bond (i.e., the intimate physical connection of sexual intercourse) with them by completing the act, you start to feel sad,” says Dr. Tantry.

Hormones

Realistically, we could blame hormones for just about everything, but they’re especially powerful after sex. 

Dopamine, a pleasure hormone, and oxytocin, the bonding hormone, are both released during sex. These hormones drop off pretty drastically after sex, which can often cause you to experience feelings of sadness—or bouts of crying. 

Hormones during your menstrual cycle can also be to blame. Most women are familiar with the mood swings that come with PMS, and these can impact how you feel after sex as well.

Shame or Guilt

Sex can often bring up feelings of shame or guilt based on many different factors, including past trauma, the participant’s history together, whether or not the decision to have sex is regretted, or how the person felt during the encounter. All of these reasons and more can cause negative feelings about the experience and lead to sadness and crying. 

Feelings About the Relationship

Perhaps you slept with an ex in a moment of vulnerability, or you hoped sex could help improve a struggling marriage. Any sort of uncertainty about a relationship can be heightened after sex, causing a strong reaction afterward.  

Depression

Mental health issues, such as depression or anxiety, can lead to crying after sex. Depression affects mood, feelings of self-worth, and can significantly impact one's emotional state, making those dealing with depression more susceptible to feelings of sadness or emotional overwhelm during or after intimate moments.

Sex can be an emotionally-charged experience that might trigger intense feelings, or can remind individuals of their vulnerabilities, insecurities, or other underlying issues.

Physical Pain

For some, sex can be physically uncomfortable. Whether it’s a lack of lubrication, an infection, a health condition like endometriosis, or a psychological issue, sex might not feel good for you. This physical pain can also bring up an emotional response that may result in crying.

What to Do When Someone Cries After Sex

Whether you’re the one who’s crying after sex or your partner suddenly tears up after climax, it’s important to remember there is no shame in any of it. 

If you’re the one crying, try communicating with your partner so they can understand what’s happening. 

If your partner is crying and you are unsure what to do, ask if something is wrong, offer comfort or support if they want it, or give them space to process the emotions in the moment. 


Crying after sex isn’t a bad thing, but if it’s causing issues in your relationship or seems to be caused by negative emotions that impact your life, it might be worth seeking professional help from a mental health expert.

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