Postcoital Dysphoria: Shining a light on the post-sex blues

The first time I experienced postcoital dysphoria I had absolutely no idea what was going on. A sudden rush of all-consuming sadness rushed through me and then a stab of embarrassment when my eyes began flowing with hot, emotional tears. Nothing was wrong, so why did I feel like my world had come crashing down in such an intimate, consensual, and vulnerable space?

It wasn’t till over a year or experiencing depressive waves after sex did I even think to really look into it. I genuinely believed that it had something to do with me and me alone and that I would have to deal with it silently for the rest of my life. Sitting alone in the bathroom, crying my heart out became a regular occurrence.

But after much research, I finally came across PCD and dove head-first into absolutely anything I could get my hands on.

So what is PCD?

Postcoital dysphoria, also known as postcoital tristesse or the post-sex blues is when women (and men) are faced with deep emotional sadness after or even during sex, even though the act is safe, satisfying, and consensual. These feelings of irritability, anxiety and depression can manifest themselves and cause outbursts, crying, or even the need to seclude oneself.

Although these emotions are often seen after sex and specifically after orgasm and pleasure, they can also be seen during sex and the build-up to the orgasm creating a tearful and emotional climax that, if undiagnosed, can be quite confusing for both partners.

Now it’s important to understand that PCD is not a female sexual dysfunction and is not related to the physicality of sex and intimacy but rather the emotional and mental aspects of, not only sex itself but the intimacy and vulnerability of opening oneself to another.

PCD has many different roots that can stem from PTSD, fear of loss, shame, or trauma which are all not inherently bad within themselves but rather, may be in need of attention.

So as a holistic therapist and womb healer the idea of unresolved trauma being a possible underlying cause of PCD was extremely interesting and tied into the work I do and conversations I have. The body reacts to unresolved emotions and when else would such deep-rooted womb trauma manifest its head than in the arms of a lover and during such an intimate space.

You can experience PCD once in your life, once a year, or consistently, it can also come and go without warning. So how do we deal with it…

  1. Aknowledge the way you are feeling. Allow the emotions to manifest themselves and understand that you are ok and you are safe.
  2. Take a few deep breaths and use your senses to settle yourself back into the space you are in
  3. Share how you are feeling with your partner. Open up and converse. Where is the saddness felt most within your body.
  4. Pillow-talk is an ectremely beneficial after sex activity that can bring closeness and a different type of intimacy to your space. Take some time to recoup, cuddle and feel safe.
  5. Therapy weill help you to dive deep into the underlying issues that need attention.

There is no quick fix when it comes to PCD, but speaking about it and starting conversations is the first step to acknowledging and making space with other women to converse and relate to each other’s experiences.

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