Many Women Experience Depression After Sex, Says New Study, And Here's Why

While sex is meant to leave us with this happy afterglow, sometimes, it just doesn’t. In fact, it may do the opposite. If you’re a woman who has ever felt down in the dumps after a night of sexual fun, don’t worry. You’re not alone. A new study has found that nearly 50 percent of women experience post-sex depression at least once in their lifetime.

In a recent study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, Dr. Robert Schweitzer and colleagues took a sample of 230 female university students and asked them to complete an online survey to determine if they experienced any symptoms of PCD or postcoital dysphoria. Or what's commonly known as “post-sex blues.” According to a report by Medical Daily, symptoms include anxiety, agitation, aggression, tearfulness, and a sense of melancholy or depression following sexual intercourse.

As the study found, about 46 percent of the women surveyed said they experienced some form of PCD symptoms at least once in their lifetime, while five percent said they experienced it a few times over the past four weeks.

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In 2012, Schweitzer and his team from the Queensland Institute of Technology’s School of Psychology and Counseling conducted a similar study of 200 young women, and found that 32.9 percent experienced PCD symptoms, while 10 percent admitted to experiencing distress and depression after having consensual sex. 

"We want to gain a better understanding of women's experience following consensual sex," Schweitzer said after the 2012 study. "This study will hopefully help people who experience post-coital dysphoria realize that they are not alone. Once we understand the experience we can start thinking about the role of clinicians in assisting people to understand and to address issues causing concern."

While some of us feel sad, or more so disappointed, if we don’t reach orgasm during sex, many people feel sad even if they do. Here are five things you should know about post-sex blues, because as the study found, you’re not the only one:

1. It's A Real Thing

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The official name for the condition is post-coital tristesse. It comes from the Latin phrase, post-coital, and the French word, tristesse, which means “sadness.” Put those two together and you have post-sex sadness. But it's not to be confused with post-orgasmic illness syndrome (POIS), which causes people to experience apathy, itchy eyes, and weepiness up to days after an orgasm, according to a VICE report. 

2. The Symptoms

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People who suffer from the condition experience strong feelings of sadness, anxiety, and unease beginning immediately after sex to up to two hours later. 

3. Why It Happens

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Both men and women experience PCD, and they have their hormones to blame. This time, the hormone in question is prolactin. Women have the hormone for milk production, but men have it as well. After orgasm, the body creates prolactin in order to counteract the release of dopamine, which is the hormone responsible for sexual arousal. So, prolactin is to blame for those feelings of depression.

4. What's The Treatment

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Possible treatment idea, perhaps? A 2009 study conducted by psychiatrist, Richard Friedman took a number of test subjects and gave them anti-depressant drugs. One of the side effects of taking the drugs was a decrease in sexual pleasure. As Friedman found, there was a relationship between the loss of sexual pleasure and a drop in feelings of post-sex sadnessIf people had intensely pleasurable orgasms, they were more likely to experience greater emotional crashes afterward.

Want more of Bustle's Sex and Relationships coverage? Check out our new podcast, I Want It That Way, which delves into the difficult and downright dirty parts of a relationship, and find more on our Soundcloud page.

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Images: George.M./Fotolia; Giphy(5)

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