Post-coital tristesse (PCT) or post-coital dysphoria (PCD) is the feeling of sadness, anxiety, agitation or aggression after sexual intercourse. Its name comes from New Latin postcoitalis and French tristesse, literally "sadness". Many people with PCT may exhibit strong feelings of anxiety lasting from five minutes to two hours after coitus.
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The phenomenon is traced to the Greek doctor Galen, who wrote, "Every animal is sad after coitus except the human female and the rooster." The philosopher Baruch Spinoza in his Tractatus de Intellectus Emendatione writes, "For as far as sensual pleasure is concerned, the mind is so caught up in it, as if at peace in a [true] good, that it is quite prevented from thinking of anything else. But after the enjoyment of sensual pleasure is passed, the greatest sadness follows. If this does not completely engross, still it thoroughly confuses and dulls the mind." With respect to symptoms in women, one study involved an epidemiological survey of post-coital psychological symptoms in a United Kingdom population sample of female twins.
PCT is a separate phenomenon from the refractory period. PCT is different in that it occurs only after sexual intercourse and does not require an orgasm to occur, and in that its effects are primarily emotional rather than physiological. Some doctors prescribe serotonin reuptake inhibitors, such as fluoxetine, to treat PCT. After two weeks, people reported that, "while sex was less intensely pleasurable, no emotional crash followed."
One study reported that almost half of female university students reported PCD symptoms at least once in their lifetime. The study also reported that there appeared to be no correlation between PCD and intimacy in close relationships.
Another study reported that among a sample of 1208 male participants, 40% of them had experienced PCD once in their lifetime and 20% reported experiencing PCD in the four weeks preceding the study. This study also reports that between 3-4% of the sample experienced PCD symptoms on a regular basis. According to the same study, PCD among males is associated with current psychological distress, sexual abuse during childhood, and with several sexual dysfunctions.
- "Sex and depression: In the brain, if not the mind". New York Times. 2009-01-20. Retrieved 2011-10-05.
- Quoted by Herant A. Katchadourian in Fundamentals of Human Sexuality, Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1985, p. 73.
- Burri, A. V.; Spector, T. D. (2012). "An Epidemiological Survey of Post-Coital Psychological Symptoms in a UK Population Sample of Female Twins". Twin Research and Human Genetics. 14 (3): 240–248. doi:10.1375/twin.14.3.240. PMID 21623654.
- Schweitzer, RD; O'Brien, J; Burri, A (December 2015). "Postcoital Dysphoria: Prevalence and Psychological Correlates". Sexual medicine. 3 (4): 235–43. doi:10.1002/sm2.74. PMC 4721025. PMID 26797056.
- Maczkowiack J, Schweitzer RD (July 2018). "Postcoital Dysphoria: Prevalence and Correlates among Males". Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy: 1–0. doi:10.1080/0092623X.2018.1488326. PMID 30040588.
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