Even when you’re in bed with someone you trust and you’re having awesome sex, you may just find yourself shedding some tears, whether during penetrative sex, upon achieving orgasm, or even in that post-romp haze. And according to sex therapists, there are a number of reasons this emotional response is a completely and totally normal experience.
Reasons for crying during sex
“Just like sex is not just physical, our responses to sex can be physical, emotional, or both,” says sex and relationship therapist Kristine Seitz, LSW.
So while you might feel happy and safe and totally into what’s going on (either with a partner or by yourself), your body’s reaction may tap into your emotions and thoughts, or vice versa. “When people cry during sex, it could mean myriad emotions are being released at the same time,” says certified sex therapist and coach Sari Cooper, LCSW. The emotions could come from love, anxiety, vulnerability, excitement, or whatever else you happen to be feeling at the given moment in question—and sometimes those feelings can manifest in a way that's overwhelming, and thus, tear-producing.
And even when you're engaging in an act that's completely consensual, it's possible that it can still trigger memories of less-happy experiences that might lead to crying during sex. Because there are so many different factors and potential causes that may feed into your tears, checking in with yourself to introspect about what's going on beneath your emotional surface is key. “I think it is really important for folks to ask themselves, ‘What am I feeling and what meaning does this have for me?'” Seitz says.
Why you might cry after you orgasm
It's not quite breaking news that orgasms can be an intense experience. What's lesser-known, though, is that not just your body but also your heart and mind may have responses of their own. “Sometimes a partner experiences a sensation, arousal, or an orgasm unlike they’ve ever felt, and the peak of arousal lights up their whole brain so that all emotions are heightened,” says Cooper. “Tears are our body’s way of release.”
“The peak of arousal lights up the whole brain so that all emotions are heightened. Tears are our body’s way of release.” —sex therapist Sari Cooper, LCSW
Another possible explanation of why an orgasm may bring about tears is that the heightened experience can be—in addition to full of pleasure—frightening or startling, leading people to feel out of control. And while that’s a perfectly plausible response, understanding that orgasms and our varied reactions to them are also normal can facilitate comfort—and, in turn, quell tears. “Learning to trust the body’s wisdom is a beautiful experience that can improve sexual and emotional satisfaction,” says sex therapist Christy Haas, LPCC.
So, I've cried during sex—now what?
Experts have clarified that crying during or after sex isn’t necessarily problematic, but it's still worth noting that stray tears and full-on sobs may not reflect the same underlying causes. To this point, Cooper says that if sex or masturbation is followed by uncontrollable fits of crying, seeing a sex therapist may be an appropriate next step. This is especially crucial if your tears during sex are due to physical pain or even potential post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). If you can't pinpoint any potential root cause for your tears, and you suspect you may have postcoital dysphoria (or post-sex blues), a condition of not understanding or being able to explain why you feel sad or argumentative after sex that was consensual and ostensibly enjoyable for all parties, seeking the services of a sex therapist is also advisable.
But if your tears more so fall in line with the experiences outlined above of general overstimulation, consider chatting with your partner(s) about it. Haas points out that by normalizing the experience via open communication, you may even strengthen your sexual and emotional connection.
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