In Western cultures men face range of expectations and assumptions about their preferences, performance, and experience of sexual activity. These assumptions include that males always desire and experience sex as pleasurable.
However, a world-first study concludes men can and do suffer from sadness, tearfulness or irritability following sex and has the potential to interfere with couple interactions following sexual activity.
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The phenomenon called Postcoital Dysphoria (PCD). While the condition had been recognized in women, no studies had previously identified PCD among males.
According to the researchers, 41 percent of the men reported experiencing experienced sadness following sex in their lifetime. 20 percent reporting they had experienced it in the previous four weeks. Up to 4 percent suffered from PCD on a regular basis.
Some of the remarks from men who had experienced sadness following sex described experiences ranging from “I don’t want to be touched and want to be left alone” to “I feel unsatisfied, annoyed and very fidgety. All I really want is to leave and distract myself from everything I participated in”.
“Another described feeling “emotionless and empty” in contrast to the men who experienced the post-coital experience positively, and used descriptors such as a “feeling of well-being, satisfaction, contentment” and closeness to their partner,” he said.
The study published by the International Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy, breaks down the results of an international anonymous online survey of 1,208 men from Australia, the USA, the UK, Russia, New Zealand, Germany and elsewhere,” said masters student Joel Maczkowiack the co-author of the research together with Professor Robert Schweitzer, both from QUT’s School of Psychology and Counselling.
Professor Schweitzer said the results indicated the male experience of sex could be far more varied and complex than previously thought. It also had implications for future therapies and more open discourse on the male sexual experience.
“The first three phases of the human sexual response cycle – excitement, plateau, and orgasm – have been the focus of the majority of research to date,” Professor Schweitzer said.
“The experience of the resolution phase remains a bit of a mystery and is therefore poorly understood.
“It is commonly believed that males and females experience a range of positive emotions including contentment and relaxation immediately following consensual sexual activity.
“Yet previous studies on the PCD experience of females showed that a similar proportion of females had experienced PCD on a regular basis. As with the men in this new study, it is not well understood. We would speculate that the reasons are multifactorial, including both biological and psychological factors.”
“It has, for example, been established that couples who engage in talking, kissing, and cuddling following sexual activity report greater sexual and relationship satisfaction, demonstrating that the resolution phase is important for bonding and intimacy,” Professor Schweitzer added
“So the negative affective state which defines PCD has potential to cause distress to the individual, as well as the partner, disrupt important relationship processes, and contribute to distress and conflict within the relationship, and impact upon sexual and relationship functioning.”