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Do You Feel Down After Sex? Here’s What You Should Know About Post-Sex Depression
We seek sex for many reasons — for connection, for fun, out of boredom, even self-soothing. But sex isn’t always able to meet the needs we place on it, and this can lead some to feel empty, lonely or depressed after sex. In cases of people who experience post-sex depression, it’s important to bring a mindfulness to why you are having sex, which can help you determine the best way to get your needs met, often in non-sexual ways.
Sex shouldn’t leave you feeling worse off, but many people have sex they don’t want to have, and that results in post-sex depression or leaves them feeling depleted. The euphoria of sex can’t last forever, nor can the feelings of attachment.
There is no wrong reason for sex as long as it’s consensual and compassionate, but it’s important to be clear and honest with yourself about your motives.
Do you feel depressed after sex? Here’s what you should know about post-sex depression:
1. Don’t panic.
Low moods serve a purpose, and simply trying to get rid of post-sex depression won’t allow you to learn the why. All feelings, even those after sex, are communicating something to us. Allow yourself to explore those post-sex feelings.
2. Don’t shame sex.
Feeling depressed after sex could be the result of sex or body shame. For some, the moments of intimacy after an orgasm lead them to feel insecure — about their body, about intimacy or about sex in general. Arousal keeps us away from these feelings, which means they come on powerfully after we come and the arousal subsides. Sit in your post-sex vulnerability and learn to tolerate it.
3. Ask yourself, “Why do I want to have sex?”
Few ever bring mindfulness to their motives for having sex. Asking yourself “why” (why sex, why now, why with this person) can illuminate the possibility that you’re either seeking something sex won’t provide, or perhaps that a better solution may exist.
4. Don’t have sex you don’t want to have.
While it sounds obvious, many people don’t acknowledge the more subtle and covert forms of a lack of sexual interest. Low desire, lack of a consistent erection and a wandering mind are all possible signs of not actually wanting sex. Forcing your body to perform anyway is both problematic for your anatomy but also negatively impacts your mood and psychology. Don’t be afraid to (1) stop sex completely, (2) ask for something different sexually that you do fully desire, or (3) have the “just friends” chat.
5. Only have sex with people you like.
This is another obvious yet not always employed rule. A partner being “hot” isn’t always a good enough reason for sex. Are they nice? Do you enjoy them as a person? Do they treat you well? Those are all important questions to ask. Feeling depressed after sex with someone who treats you poorly is actually a healthy signal from your MindBody to make healthier choices.
6. Engage in post-sex “after care.”
Even with a hookup or a one-nighter, post-sex intimacy like cuddling, chatting or just hanging out for a while is a good transition out of deep intimacy. There’s no need to rush out after sex, as time together is not a promise for anything again in the future. It does, though, allow for all people to feel cared for. Sex is a relational act, and a form of of intimacy even when anonymous. That’s not a bad thing, but ignoring and bypassing this can lead to feelings of emptiness and post-sex depression.
7. Blame biology.
After an orgasm, a natural response occurs for those with prostates called a refractory period. It creates what feels like a drive for disconnection. But lean into continued intimacy, touch and connection anyway. What we do after sex communicates a lot of meaningful information to our partners.
Sex involves our bodies, our sexuality and our history of intimacy, which can leave us feeling highly vulnerable. Honor this by bringing an ethic of care and consciousness to yourself and your partners.
Post-sex depression is real. Do you ever feel depressed after sex?
Dr. Chris Donaghue is a lecturer, therapist and host of the LoveLine podcast, a weekly expert on The Amber Rose Show, and a frequent co-host on TV series The Doctors. He authored Sex Outside the Lines and has been published in various journals and magazines, including The New York Times, Newsweek and National Geographic. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram.
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