Post-sex blues is not a sexual behaviour commonly discussed, but one in three women have experienced post-sex blues at some point, a study shows, but researchers still don’t understand why.
Queensland University of Technology (QUT) study of more than 200 young women has found one in three (32.9 per cent) had experienced the phenomenon at some point. QUT Associate Professor Robert Schweitzer’s research, published in the latest International Journal of Sexual Health, looked at the prevalence of postcoital dysphoria or the experience of negative feelings following otherwise satisfactory intercourse.
The period immediately after sex normally results in feelings of well-being, and mental and physical relaxation. But the study of more than 200 young women reveals many have experienced the reverse, including feelings of melancholy, anxiety and tearfulness.
Professor Schweitzer said the cause of such negative feelings was unknown – but it was clear women wanted more information about the phenomenon. ”Research on the prevalence and causes of post-coital dysphoria has been virtually silent but internet searches reveal information on the subject is widely sought,” he said.
”It has generally been thought that women who have experienced sexual abuse associate later sexual encounters with the trauma of the abuse along with sensations of shame, guilt, punishment and loss.
”This association is then purported to lead to sexual problems and the avoidance of sex.”
But Professor Schweitzer said his study had found only limited correlation between sexual abuse and postcoital dysphoria.
”Psychological distress was also found to be only modestly associated with post-coital dysphoria,” he said. ”This suggests other factors such as biological predisposition may be more important in understanding the phenomenon and identifying women at risk of experiencing post-coital dysphoria.”
The next stage of Professor Schweitzer’s research will look at emotional characteristics of women who experience post-sex blues.
”I want to look at how women view their ‘sense of self’. Whether they are fragile or whether they are strong women, and investigate whether this leads to their post-coital dysphoria,” he said.
The study, published in the International Journal of Sexual Health, was co-written by Professor Schweitzer, postgraduate psychology researcher Brian Bird and the University of Utah’s Professor Donald Strassberg.