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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.
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 past, the greatest sadness follows. If this does not completely engross, still it thoroughly confuses and dulls the mind." Poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti also referenced the phenomenon in his 1955 City Lights Pocket Poets Series book Pictures of a Gone World. 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, the period after an orgasm where it is impossible for a person (usually a man) to have additional orgasms, especially after ejaculation. 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.
- "Sex and depression: In the brain, if not the mind". New York Times. 2009-01-20. Retrieved 2011-10-05.
- Jelto Drenth, The Origin of the World: Science and Fiction of the Vagina (c) 2005 Reaktion Books, p. 57
- 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 . PMID 26797056.
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