What Is Post Coital Dysphoria?

By BetterHelp Editorial Team|Updated June 28, 2022
CheckedMedically Reviewed By Laura Angers, NCC, LPC

Have you ever felt really unusual after you just had sex with someone? This isn’t too out of the ordinary, and sometimes you might regret having certain sexual encounters because you know that they weren’t a good move for you. However, these post-sex feelings might be more than just small pangs of regret. Some people experience something known as postcoital dysphoria. This is a condition that causes people to feel feelings of sadness, anxiety, regret, or anger after having sex with someone. For some people, these feelings will be mild, and they will not necessarily occur every time you have sex. For others, postcoital dysphoria is a more common occurrence that can become problematic.

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Why do people have these feelings after sex, and what can you do to avoid postcoital dysphoria? To get to the bottom of things, you’re going to need to analyze your situation while learning a bit more about this issue. Is your problem just a little post-sex blues, or does it go deeper than that? Read on and be prepared to think about your situation so that you can determine if you are going to need to make some changes. Sometimes a little introspection can help you to open your eyes and see a situation for what it really is.

Postcoital Dysphoria Can Impact All Genders

Some people look into postcoital dysphoria, and they assume that it is a problem that is only experienced by women. This just isn’t the case, and the post-sex blues can definitely impact men as well as any other gender. Studies have shown that both men and women experience postcoital symptoms that are similar in many ways. If you’re a man who has been experiencing unusual feelings after having sex with someone, then this doesn’t make you unusual. Many people go through this, and it’s not something that you need to be extremely worried about. It can be a bit problematic if these feelings happen frequently, but you will be able to work through them with help.

Common Reasons To Experience Postcoital Dysphoria

There are many common reasons why you might experience postcoital dysphoria. Many people experience post-sex emotional issues when they have hooked up with someone that they don’t have feelings for. If you’ve just had a one night stand with someone, then you might have mixed emotions about the experience. On the one hand, you might be attracted to this person that you slept with. However, that doesn’t mean that the experience was utterly gratifying because it could leave you feeling a bit empty. This is somewhat natural because you might be desiring a more meaningful connection with someone. Feelings like this can be compounded with feelings of shame, guilt, and unhappiness.

You won’t always feel this way, and some people won’t ever experience anything close to post-sex emotional problems. Others will experience these emotions for a number of different reasons. People have reported having these feelings when they’ve had an unfortunate sexual encounter, and some have even experienced postcoital issues when they’re in a committed relationship. This could be an indication that your relationship is lacking intimacy or that something else is amiss. Essentially, it’s just an emotional response that triggers after sex when you’re thinking about things.

It’s also possible to experience mixed emotions after sex because of your upbringing. Did you grow up in a religious household that had strict views on sex? If so, then having sex might cause you to feel ashamed because you remember those teachings that you received when you were a young person. Even if you don’t adhere to that religion now, things like that can stick with you, and they can have an impact on your life. Most people will get over these feelings eventually and work through their emotions. Some people feel the need to talk it out with a therapist so that they can come to terms with things.

Another possibility is that you feel guilty due to feelings of sexual shame. This is more common than you might realize, and it could be a somewhat separate issue, but it’s still related to the emotions that you’re feeling. For example, you might feel some type of inadequacy due to body image issues, and this could cause you to feel shame after the sex is over. Other people might have experienced sexual abuse in the past, and this might make sex a very emotional and complicated experience for them. Some issues go beyond merely feeling a bit nervous, and you might need to get help if you’re going through more complex problems. ( If you or someone you know is or may be experiencing abuse, please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline, available 24/7, at 1.800.799.SAFE (7233) or text "START" to 88788. Live chat is also available on the National Domestic Violence Hotline website.)

How To Avoid Postcoital Dysphoria Issues

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If you’re just feeling a bit down after sex, then it might not be something that you won’t have to worry about so much. It’s when this issue starts to happen all the time that you might need to address things. If you’re experiencing this after sleeping with people that you don’t know that well, then it might be a sign that you should stop. Perhaps your emotions are trying to tell you that you desire something more profound than a one night stand. Your sexual encounters might not be fulfilling for you, and this could be leading to the feelings of post-sex blues.

Do you think that your emotional issues could be related to body image? This might be a sign that you need to boost your self-confidence. Many things can help you with this, and finding a supportive partner can work wonders. If you see someone willing to work with you to help you feel comfortable and satisfied sexually, then these uneasy feelings after sex might disappear entirely. Those who are already in a relationship might want to work on strengthening the relationship and improving communication. Hopefully, this will help you both to enjoy sex without feeling any negative emotions after you’re finished.

Some people are just uncomfortable with certain types of sex as well. You might be having rougher sex than usual with your partner, and this could leave you feeling uneasy about things once you’ve finished. Be honest about your feelings and let your partner know if you just aren’t feeling comfortable with a certain type of sex. If someone loves you, then they’re going to be understanding about things and will work to help you feel more comfortable with sexual encounters in the future. You might even just want to be held after sex or to have a talk with your partner. There’s nothing wrong with needing things to be different to make your sexual experience feel more natural.

Anxiety And Depression Issues

Anxiety and depression issues are prevalent, and sometimes this might be impacting your sex life. You could be experiencing postcoital dysphoria, but the issue could be made worse by anxiety and depression. If you’re able to get your anxiety or depression issues under control, then you might start feeling better after sex as well. Postcoital dysphoria isn’t necessarily related to anxiety or depression, but it’s not something that you can rule out. If you’re noticing emotional issues at other times, then you might need to speak to your doctor about what is going on.

Talking to your doctor about feelings of anxiety or depression is a great first step toward determining if there is an issue. Some people experience bouts of depression or anxiety due to going through stressful situations. This could even occur when you’ve been having a tough time at work or when you’re feeling frazzled as a parent. It’s something that millions of people go through, and you may or may not have a disorder of some type. Sometimes individuals can receive treatment for a little while and get over these issues. Others might need continued treatment to manage chronic depression or an anxiety disorder.

Either way, it’s going to be worthwhile to discuss things with your family physician. They can diagnose you and will work to ensure that you get good treatment no matter what is occurring. Sometimes emotional changes can be signals that you’re experiencing larger problems. If your issue is simply related to postcoital dysphoria, then making some of the above changes should help. Your doctor might even recommend seeing a sex therapist who can discuss things with you and help you to feel more comfortable about sex moving forward.

Therapy Can Help

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Therapy is really helpful for people who are experiencing emotional issues. Whether you just have post-sex anxiety or if you are experiencing more significant problems, a therapist will be there for you. They know how to help you get to the bottom of your feelings, and you’ll be able to understand why you’re feeling the way that you are. Working on your mental health can have a positive impact on your life, and you’re going to be able to enjoy sex without having to worry about things quite so much. If you need to make changes to your sex life, then your therapist can help you to come to terms with everything that you’re experiencing.

There is an increasingly large body of evidence pointing to online therapy as an effective method of providing care to those experiencing issues related to sex. In one study, published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, the effects of online therapy on low sexual interest/arousal were examined. After treatment, which primarily consisted of interactive educational content, women reported feeling more validated and hopeful about sexual interactions, in addition to experiencing greater arousal, desire, and sexual satisfaction. These findings are in line with those from a number of similar studies on online therapy’s usefulness in treating a wide range of mental health issues.

As discussed above, if you’re ready to confront difficult emotions related to sex—such as postcoital dysphoria—online therapy can help. With BetterHelp, counseling is discreet, and can be participated in from the privacy of your home. Through videoconferencing, live chat, messaging, or voice call, you can connect with a mental health professional who will be able to give you techniques for working through complex issues. Read below for reviews of BetterHelp counselors, from those who have sought help in the past. 

Counselor Reviews

“David is a great listener and has helped me come a long way in overcoming my anxieties and issues in my relationship. He always makes me feel comfortable and is easy to talk with and express how I am feeling.”

“Paul helped me open up about issues that have been bothering me my entire life. It felt like I let go off all the baggage I carried around with me from my past because of his counselling. He also presented me with techniques to improve my communication and emotions within my relationship which will be beneficial for me for my rest of my life. Thank you, Paul! I am truly grateful.”


If you’d like to discuss your postcoital dysphoria experiences discreetly, then therapy might be the ideal choice. Both in-person therapy and online therapy are helpful options that are readily available to you. Reach out to a therapist at any time if you need to discuss the emotions that you’re feeling. They’ll know just how to help, and you’ll be able to feel better about your sex life soon.

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