1/10 of Women Depressed After Sex

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One-third of women have felt depressed after sex, and 10% regularly do.

It’s not about feeling down after a one night stand, worried you’ve made a mistake. Many of the women were in stable relationships. One explained:

I did not associate the feeling with an absence of love or affection for my sexual partner nor with an absence of love or affection from them towards me, because it seemed so unconnected with them.

I thought of this study as I read a blog post from “Overcoming Depression,” by a man who struggles with this same issue:

A passionate love making is one of the most enriching experience of one’s life. Let me tell you one difficulty that I sometimes face in love making. If I did not get enough satisfaction after sex I become very sad and I feel very ‘low’ and slightly depressed.  I don’t like it happening to me. It makes my girl-friend feel bad as well by thinking that it is her fault. I don’t know how to tackle this issue. Any suggestions?

This is a hard one because even the researchers don’t know.

The problem is common among women who have been sexually abused or grown up in sex-shaming religions of families. They often feel guilty or frustrated afterward.

But that was not so for everyone in the study.

Depression may arise from issues outside the bedroom. Researcher, Dr. Debby Herbenick suggests talking with your partner, your doctor or seeing a therapist. Ask yourself, “Are you upset with your partner? Are you having self-esteem or body issues? Are you sad about other things in your life?”

Below are some reader comments from Clutch, where I first read about this study:

  • I would imagine that women my age at least (over 40) may still have some guilt tied up with sex. Growing up in the 60′s and being browbeaten, threatened and dared to “keep your dress down and your panties up,” by the time many women did get some, they felt too guilty about it to enjoy it. And then these women raised their daughters this same way as they were raised, which would explain younger women suffering from the same emotional malady. We pass along a lot of twisted notions to our kids sometimes, even when we know it’s not right.
  • I had that problem in the past but for some reason, it hasn’t occurred in a very long time. I have also experienced extreme agitation and anger, but um, I’m sure that was due to not being satisfied.
  • i get irritable when i don’t have an orgasm. this is why i believe in using a magic wand. go  get one – around $35. best money you will ever spend.

My thoughts:

In cultures that are sex-positive, women enjoy sex a great deal and are highly orgasmic. Something is terribly wrong in our society when one-third of American women have experienced sadness or anxiety after sex.

Otherwise, I’d suggest focusing on the connection, on the merging with each other, rather than the goal of an amazing orgasm.

And Casey, who blogs at The Sprightly Writer also has some interesting suggestions:

Hmm…after making love, I’ve felt sad and low at times too. But I think the solution to this is to focus on the full body experience and not focus on the goal, but on the exploration of the other person. 

How much do you incorporate sensory play? A lot of people whose sex lives become too boring will improve with incorporating different sensations – ice cubes, feathers, soft fabrics. If your partner is willing, she might even go for a little bit of wicked fun. 

…For men, there is also a trick you can try to prolong and enhance your personal experience. If they can learn to practice coming to the edge of ‘completion’, backing off from it and focus on her, coming back to that place, and backing away from it, it extends the duration and the intensity when you finally do find release.

If anyone finds any of this helpful, let me know.

Related Posts on BroadBlogs
DO Women Like Sex Less Than Men?
Repressive Female Sex Culture 
Sex Lessons from Mom and Dad 
Surprises in Indiana University Sex Survey

About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State. And I have blogged for Feminispire, Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos. Also been picked up by The Alternet.

Posted on July 18, 2013, in feminism, psychology, sex and sexuality, women and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 17 Comments.

  1. overcoming depression

    Sorry to hear that such problems are pervasive among women. Thanks for addressing my issue in the post. As you suggeted a more healthy attitude towards sex is very much required. May be people should see sex as the act of expressing one’s love rather than an act in which one is trying to satisfy one’s craving for certain impulses/sensations. Maybe the value of of sex is to be viwed in terms of its capability to provide the bondiing with one’s “significant other” rather than achieving an amazing orgasm (Orgasm might happen in the process but should not be the focus). Thank you for the wonderful post.

    • Thank you for inspiring the post!

      Regarding, “Maybe people should see sex as the act of expressing one’s love rather than an act in which one is trying to satisfy one’s craving for certain impulses/sensations.”

      I’ve found that I enjoy sex much more with that shift in attitude.

      • overcoming depression

        Thanks for sharing your experience on that. I think that shift is very importatn for seeing the other as an importatnt human being (a significant other) rather than an object of sexual satifaction.
        Hug,
        Niranjan

      • You are so very welcome. Hugs back.

  2. Hey, Georgia. I’ve been on a blogging break, but now I’m back. So glad to have found this article through Rohan. I am reading Brene Brown’s Daring Greatly in which she argues that bringing shame to light helps us heal from shame. I think talking about these issues or even reading about them on blogs like yours is part of the healing. Thanks for your service. {{{hugs}}} Kozo

    • Thanks. You could be right. As some comments seem to suggest.

      Glad that you’re back. I’m looking forward to getting back to your blog. Hope you had a great vacation.

  3. I regulalry feel anxious and down after sex. I think this is due to my high expectations and lack of real knowledge. While I was growing up I was very shielded from sex and never received any education about it (my teachers were too embarrased to talk about it.) My ideas have always been based on how it is portrayed in the media and in films where women seem to receive instant pleasure from it. I’m also in a very male dominated field of work and do not have any female friends to talk to. I’ve had problems in the past with friends being pushy and telling me how I should feel. One guy (who I’ve now cut out of my life) use to make me watch porn videos claiming that I could learn a thing or two from them. Due to my lack of education I wasn’t sure if being treated in this way was normal and at the time I felt really inadequate. After my first time I found it dissappointing when compared to what that guy had told me and I wondered if there was something wrong with me. I then decided to do some research and have stumbled across countless other accounts from women with stories similar to mine. I now realize that what a lot of my friends have told me is not accurate at all and I wish I’d felt more comfortable to look all of this stuff up earlier. Luckily my current boyfriend is kind and very easy to talk to about things that are bothering me. Thanks for creating such a wonderful blog, I think it’s important that we stop treating sex like it’s dirty or giving people fake ideas about it.

    • Thank you for sharing your experience.

      Some of your experience isn’t a whole lot different from mine. Both of us lived in sex-repressive cultures and had a hard time enjoying sex. I suspect it has an effect similar to kids who are sexually abused. It’s hard to suddenly enjoy sex when you’ve have had a lot of negative connotations attached to it.

      In fact, if I had come across my blog as a kid I would’ve been pretty appalled. And in fact, my mom finally came across my blog and she is pretty appalled.

      It took me a long time to overcome this problem. Teaching about sexuality in my classes (Women’s Psych) was actually one of the things that helped a lot. I didn’t want to unconsciously communicate sex-negative ideas to my students so I purposely took a different approach in my own mind. And behaving that way seem to change my mind. Which goes along with psychological learning theories found in behaviorism.

      I was also introduced to a book that I found really helpful called, “For Yourself” by Lonnie Barbach. You might want to check it out. http://www.amazon.com/For-Yourself-Fulfillment-Female-Sexuality/dp/0451202007

      I’m glad that you have found my blog helpful.

      And I wish you the best going forward.

  4. BB-

    I appreciate this post. Thank you for the recognition. I am over 40 and sex-positive and really believe in conscious loving/sexuality. My husband and I, married 16 years this July, have had our share of difficulties, but we’ve been very open to exploration together. We are both very sensual and find great enjoyment in the physical expression of our love and caring for each other.

    It’s been a beautiful process of learning. I think more people would benefit from having open and positive dialogues about sex with each other. The more options you know about, the more there is to explore.

    In an atmosphere of thoughtful, caring, and consensual exploration, there is much to be learned. People are often surprised at what they end up enjoying.

    I wish more people would celebrate physical intimacy and use it to help them connect on a deeper, more soulful level with each other.

    All the best,

    Casey

  5. I’m glad it’s for men as well =). I wonder if the numbers are the same in Norway?

  6. Hi, that’s an interesting post, made me think about a couple of things. I’d definitely agree with focusing on the connection, although I must say with that that I am single, and that’s not based on being in a relationship. The full body experience with one or more is the way to go in my humble opinion.

    Some of the best experiences i’ve had have been made that way because both/all of us were clearly in the mood, there was a lot of checking, contact verbally, physically and loads of eye contact. The right eye contact is amazing sometimes! Sorry, I know this was for women and i’m male, so hope you don’t mind me commenting. Best wishes

  7. Rohan 7 Things

    Really good post Georgia! I very much echo the idea of taking the focus off of orgasm as the goal and just enjoying the full-body sensory experience. A huge amount of shame surrounds our genitalia and the sex act, this is evidenced by the widespread sexual dysfunction, fear, guilt and depression that surrounds sex for so many people.

    It’s a big issue, and one that definitely needs to be talked about!

    Thanks for sharing 🙂

    Rohan.

  1. Pingback: Rohan’s 7 Things Post Of The Week #14 “1/10 of Women Depressed After Sex” | rohan7things

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