'Post-sex blues may not be a medical condition'

In a recent survey, almost half of young women said that at some point in their lives, they'd experienced feelings of melancholy after sex. Most research on female sexual function has focused on arousal, orgasm or pain before or during sex, while little has focused on emotional expression after sex, the researchers say.

So-called "postcoital dysphoria," or feelings of sadness after consensual intercourse, may not be a "medical" problem, per se, but a human experience on the continuum of sexual experiences one can have, said lead author Robert D Schweitzer of Queensland University of Technology in Kelvin Grove, Queensland, Australia.

He and his colleagues used online survey responses from 230 female university students, who answered questions about sexual function, experiences in close relationships psychological distress and sex-specific emotional experiences.

In addition, the researchers asked the women whether inexplicable tearfulness or sadness following consensual sexual intercourse - symptoms of postcoital dysphoria - had ever been a problem for them either in the last four weeks, or at some point in their lives.

About 5% of women had experienced those symptoms over the previous four weeks, and more than 46% percent had experienced them at least once in their lives. Only 2% reported having these symptoms most or all of the time.

These numbers are higher than some previous studies, suggesting that postcoital dysphoria is still under-recognised and under-researched, the researchers wrote.

There is good evidence that there is a genetic component to the symptoms, as they are more common in identical twins, and breastfeeding may be associated with dysphoria, Schweitzer said. Age and relationship length were not related to postcoital dysphoria symptoms in this study, but a history of childhood or adult sexual abuse increased the risk of the distress symptoms after sex.

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