There are a lot of articles out there talking about having better sex or improving the experience, but few ever linger on the more emotional side of sex—specifically, crying after sex.
Approximately 32.9% of women have experienced some form of post-coital dysphoria in their lives, which tends to result in tears. Yet, no one ever really talks about this experience even though it’s extremely common.
So, what exactly is post-coital dysphoria and what does it mean when you cry after sex? It’s a complicated subject, but we’ll unpack the most common reasons below.
Understanding Post-Coital Dysphoria
Even if you’ve never shed tears after sex, you may have experienced post-coital dysphoria, or rather, having feelings of depression, melancholy, anxiety, or anger following sex. While it’s more common in females, males can experience post-coital dysphoria, too. And though it doesn’t always end in tears, it usually does.
The good news is, crying after sex doesn’t always mean you’re sad and isn’t always an indication that there’s something to worry about.
If you feel overcome with emotion after sex, it’s best to stop, try to evaluate how you’re feeling, and try to figure out where those feelings are stemming from.
Of course, in the moment, it’s not always so easy to distinguish if your tears are coming from a place or sadness or comfort. To help, we’ll review some common reasons why you might be crying after sex, to help you better understand this unique phenomenon.
6 Reasons Why People Cry After Sex
Sex is complicated and emotional, and everybody’s experience is different. But, there are a few common reasons why people might cry after sex, that can help you better assess your own feelings.
1. You Feel Overwhelmed
Sex can be intense and overwhelming, especially if you’re strongly attached to the person or love them deeply. If you have a good experience with the person, you might be overcome by deep feelings of pleasure or joy.
Sometimes, just finding someone you can express yourself with intimately in a safe and secure setting is powerful enough to bring on some tears.
On the other hand, if you feel like your boundaries were pushed during the experience or if you were extremely nervous or anxious, your tears could be a result of those tense emotions.
While it can be good to let these emotions out, you also need to analyze whether the experience itself was consensual and safe, or if your nerves just got the better of you.
2. You Feel Triggered
Sometimes sex can bring up repressed memories of prior experiences, whether good or bad. If you’ve ever faced abuse, either mental or physical, sex can often stir up these dark emotions.
A good way to figure out if you’re being triggered while it’s happening is to pay attention to where your mind is wandering. Are you disassociating from your body? Are you trying not to think and just going through the motions? If you answered yes, you should stop and let your partner know what’s happening.
Your partner isn’t going to want you to feel unsafe or pressured during sex, and talking about what might have set off these feelings (and knowing it may happen again) is important to discuss.
3. You Feel Happy
Sometimes, it’s just that simple. Maybe you’ve tried roleplaying for the first time and you had a great experience. Maybe you just felt very connected to your partner the entire time. Maybe you felt supported and loved and all of those emotions were very overpowering.
During sex, your body releases oxytocin, often referred to as the cuddle hormone. This hormone can increase your already intense feelings, leading to happy tears.
4. You Feel Ashamed or Embarrassed
These emotions can pop up a lot during powerplay, if you’re playing the submissive role. Even if you and your partner talked about what was allowed beforehand, you might feel ashamed in the moment, even while feeling good.
Acts like slapping, choking, being punished, or just generally being submissive may make you feel embarrassed or ashamed, even if you feel completely safe. This can also come up during other forms of sex, if you try a move that makes you nervous or you aren’t feeling confident in your own skin.
Sometimes it’s helpful to explore these feelings as they can release inner shame you’ve likely had building up for years around sex. But, if the feelings are too intense, they might be damaging. It’s best to let your partner know how you’re feeling and adjust or stop.
5. You Feel Confused
There are many ways you can end up feeling confused during sex. Maybe you feel guilty about sleeping with a specific person. Maybe you’re sleeping with an ex and not sure what the experience means. Maybe you feel degraded or demeaned, but find it confusing that these feelings turn you on.
I can’t stress this enough: sex is so complicated. It brings up complex, deep-rooted emotions and can be confusing to navigate. Experiencing confusion during sex is normal, as long as what you’re doing isn’t hurtful.
Communicating with your partner is always the key to understanding and managing these emotions.
6. You Feel Scared
There are two ways to feel scared during sex. The first one is when you feel nervous or scared because the experience or method is a huge deal to you. This could happen when sleeping with someone for the first time, reuniting with a former lover, or trying something new in the bedroom.
It’s the feeling you get before skydiving or trying something really nerve-wracking. This feeling of apprehension can be scary, but isn’t always a bad thing.
You can also feel afraid during sex — afraid of your partner, afraid of doing something painful, or emotionally terrified for a variety of reasons. This feeling is never okay.
Is what you’re doing consensual? You need to speak up if you don’t feel safe. There’s a fine line between apprehension and actual terror, and you should know in your gut if something feels wrong.
7. It’s Painful
There are many ways to feel pain during sex. If you’re engaging in BDSM, you might cry after experiencing pain, even if you’re enjoying what’s happening to you. As long as you’re safe and feel you have control, this pain is okay and up to you to determine the limits of.
Sex can also be uncomfortable or hurt. Some positions might not feel pleasurable and it’s best to let your partner know so they can try something else that will make you feel good.
There are also more serious conditions like vulvodynia or dyspareunia which will cause pain in the vulva or vaginal canal. You could also have an infection causing pain. In fact, if you don’t feel safe with your partner, you might actually experience physical pain for psychological reasons.
If your pain seems to be constant and not caused by a particular position, it’s best to go see your OB/GYN. Sometimes the answer is as simple as lube or taking an antibiotic, but sometimes it’s more complicated.
Do You Cry After Sex?
Crying after sex can be extremely normal in most situations. A large number of women experience tears after making love, and it can be important to figure out why and let your partner know what you’re feeling.
If you find yourself crying during sex and can’t determine why, it’s best to stop and let your partner know what’s going on.
Remember, sex can be intense, extremely personal, and complicated. If you feel you’re crying after sex for a deeper reason, talking to a trusted friend or medical professional can help you work through what’s really going on.