Sex is generally a great way to relax, have fun and feel blissful. But for unknown reasons, some women end up feeling sad after what is often one of the most enjoyable activities. This condition is known as postcoital dysphoria or PCD.
A recent study from Australian researchers and a professor at the University of Utah stated that PCD “is the experience of negative affect following otherwise satisfactory sexual intercourse.” People who experience PCD do not have the usual happy feelings; they feel sad, anxious, irritable or melancholy. It is not generally referred to as depression after sex.
The study, published in the International Journal of Sexual Health, found that 1.8 percent of women in a sample of 222 sexually active female college students experienced PCD most of the time in their lifetime sexual experiences, and that 0.5 percent of women experienced PCD most of the time in the last four weeks.
Those numbers might seem small, but “32.9 percent of women reported having experienced the symptoms of PCD at some point in their lives,” according to the study. This means that the experience of PCD might not have been consistent, but they did experience it at some point at some level of frequency (a little of the time, some of the time, most of the time and all of the time).
The study looked at relationships between PCD and other sexual difficulties, psychological well-being and sexual abuse. There was some evidence to support relationships between PCD and all three, but more research needs to be conducted because there wasn't a strong correlation.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders doesn’t include this condition, but it’s clear that at least some women, and even men, suffer from it.
Robert Schweitzer, one of the researchers from the Queensland University of Technology in Australia, said in an email that as far as he knows the condition is not being considered for the DSM 5.
“I suspect that it is one of those issues that is not talked about or considered,” Schweitzer said.