Post-coital tristesse (PCT) is the feeling of sadness, anxiety, agitation or aggression, after sexual intercourse or masturbation. 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.
|Other names||Post-coital dysphoria (PCD)|
The phenomenon is attributed to the Greek medical writer Galen, who is supposed to have written that "Every animal is sad after coitus except the human female and the rooster." However, this quotation is not found in Galen's surviving writings, so it may be a later fabrication. Sigmund Freud and Havelock Ellis were familiar with the proverb, which they both attributed to an anonymous author, and it was not until decades later that the maxim became connected with Galen among sexologists.
The philosopher Baruch Spinoza, in his Tractatus de Intellectus Emendatione, wrote: "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." Arthur Schopenhauer, writing later on the phenomenon, observed that "directly after copulation the devil's laughter is heard."
One study reported that among a sample of 1208 male participants, 40% of them had experienced PCT at least once in their lifetime and 20% reported experiencing PCT in the four weeks preceding the study. This study also reports that 3–4% of the sample experienced PCT symptoms on a regular basis. According to the same study, PCT among males is associated with current psychological distress, sexual abuse during childhood, and with several sexual dysfunctions.
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: it found that 3.7% of these women reported suffering from recent PCT and 7.7% of them reported suffering PCT for a long time. Another study reported that almost half of female university students reported PCT symptoms at least once in their lifetime. The study also reported that there appeared to be no correlation between PCT and intimacy in close relationships.
- Friedman, Richard A. (20 January 2009). "Sex and depression: In the brain, if not the mind". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 29 November 2011.
- Quoted by Katchadourian, Herant A. (1985). Fundamentals of Human Sexuality. Holt, Rinehart and Winston. p. 73. ISBN 0-03-060429-X.
- Glenn, Justin (November 1982). "'Omne Animal Post Coitum Triste': A Note and a Query" (PDF). American Notes and Queries. 21 (3/4): 49–51.
- Spinoza, Baruch (1985). "Treatise on the Emendation of the Intellect". The Collected Works of Spinoza. 1. Translated by Curley, Edwin. Princeton University Press. p. 8. ISBN 978-0-691-07222-7. OCLC 884360326. OL 2849488M.
- Schopenhauer, Arthur (1974). "Chapter XIV: Additional Remarks on the Doctrine of the Affirmation and Denial of the Will-to-Live". Parerga and Paralipomena: Short Philosophical Essays. 2. Translated by Payne, E. F. J. Oxford: Clarendon Press. p. 316. ISBN 0-19-924221-6. OCLC 1219845. OL 7403439M.
- Maczkowiack J, Schweitzer RD (July 2018). "Postcoital Dysphoria: Prevalence and Correlates among Males" (PDF). Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy. 45 (2): 128–140. doi:10.1080/0092623X.2018.1488326. PMID 30040588. S2CID 51717755.
- Burri, Andrea V.; Spector, Tim D. (1 June 2011). "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. S2CID 24204845.
- Schweitzer, Robert D.; O'Brien, Jessica; Burri, Andrea (December 2015). "Postcoital Dysphoria: Prevalence and Psychological Correlates". Sexual Medicine. 3 (4): 235–243. doi:10.1002/sm2.74. PMC 4721025. PMID 26797056.