12 Reasons Why You’re Crying During or After Sex

Photo: Getty/ Oleg Breslavtsev
If you’ve found this page from Googling reasons you might cry during sex, take a deep breath. It’s not uncommon to cry during sex, even if the sex is healthy, consensual, loving, and pleasurable. Crying during sex can be due to several different factors, physically, emotionally, hormonally, and more. “There is no one way people feel after sex,” explains licensed psychologist Rachel Needle, PsyD, co-director of Modern Sex Therapy Institutes, adding that feelings in some people can range from positive to less positive following sex, depending on a number of factors. While others, as Dr. Needle notes, might experience tearfulness, anxiety, and agitation.

Experts In This Article

“There is a lot going on emotionally and neurologically during sex, so it makes sense that for some, the release might also come with some tears,” Dr. Needle says. After all, “during orgasm is when we are most vulnerable. We have to literally let go and allow ourselves to lose control for a short period of time” she adds. With this in mind, it makes sense that some people might cry during sex—after all, tears tend to come with all sorts of strong emotions and feelings (see: the frustration tears I, a grown woman, shed while on the phone with my insurance provider, often. Those and the big, wet tears I cry during my workout of a single mile jog at a 14-minute pace.)

To further understand why some people might cry during sex, we asked the experts to lay it out for us, along with explanations for other intense post-sesx feels, such as why sex might make some people feel high afterwards. Read on for more reasons you might find yourself crying during sex.

What happens after sex to people emotionally?

This depends on what kind of sex you’re talking about, sexologist Pepper Schwartz, PhD, advisor at Ro, says. “If one partner has an orgasm and another does not, if the sex was tender or not,” and more, she explains. “Sex is a complex psychological and physical process,” she says. However, if you assume both partners had an orgasm, there are certain hormones that come into play that might make people feel more emotional.

“Sex is a complex psychological and physical process.” —Pepper Schwartz, PhD, sexologist at Ro

Specifically, the hormone oxytocin could be triggered, Dr. Schwartz explains, which promotes feelings of attachment, wellbeing, and contentment. Emotionally speaking, this might make people feel more drawn to each other, she adds.

Why do I feel high after sex?

You might feel “high” after sex due to a variety of reasons, including the release of body tension, the rise of testosterone, and the buildup of adrenaline after sex, explains Dr. Schwartz. While some feel tired after sex, for others, “the cocktail of sexual tension, additional hormones, and the release of oxytocin can produce a feeling of being in an altered psychological state....similar to feeling ‘high’” she adds.

12 reasons you might cry during sex

1. You might be experiencing an involuntary release of tension

Orgasms are powerful, and as Dr. Schwartz points out, the release of your body after orgasm might be a reason for crying during sex. With orgasm, “this can often set up a whole release of body tension that sometimes encourages involuntary tearing up or downright sobbing,” Dr. Schwartz explains.

2. You might’ve had a really intense orgasm

It’s also possible that the intensity of an orgasm itself may be why you might cry during sex. As certified sex therapist and coach Sari Cooper, LCSW, explains, “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.” When this happens, Cooper explains that “tears are our body’s way of release.”

3. You might be feeling a lot of emotions at once

“When people cry during sex, it could mean myriad emotions are being released at the same time,” Cooper explains. The resulting emotional release and psychological factors might include love, anxiety, vulnerability, excitement, and whatever else you might be feeling in the moment. As Cooper explains, sometimes those feelings can manifest in a way that's overwhelming, and thus, tear-producing.

These intense emotions and the bevvy of hormonal changes spurred on by sex are also why sometimes people blurt out “I love you” or “let’s get married” only to regret it immediately later, Dr. Schwartz explains. Another hypothesis is that “for some, the release of oxytocin during sex leads to bonding and feeling connected and euphoric,” Dr. Needle explains, adding that once the sex is over, those feelings of euphoria might go away and lead to sadness.

4. You might’ve had sex that was physically strenuous

If you found yourself in a particularly acrobatic sex position, you might be crying just because your muscles hurt. Another reason for crying might be overall body tension from strained muscles and blood rushing to the pelvis, as Dr. Schwartz explains. Pilates shakes, anyone?

5. You might be reminded of prior feelings or a history of trauma

A history of trauma can also contribute to negative feelings during and after sex, Dr. Needle says. Plus, as sex and relationship therapist Kristine Seitz, MSW, LSW, explains “our responses to sex can be physical, emotional, or both,”. This means that while you might feel happy and safe and totally into what’s going on, your body’s reaction may tap into your emotions and thoughts, or vice versa. Likewise, when you're engaging in an act that's completely consensual and otherwise pleasurable, it's possible that the sex could still trigger memories of less-happy experiences and result in crying during sex.

6. You might have sexual shame

Sexual shame can be a life-long process for many people to work on, and it makes sense that the act of sex itself can trigger sexual shame. “People can feel guilty and ashamed about sex due to various reasons such as upbringing, religion, negative past experiences, self-confidence or body issues, and values/morals,” adds psychologist and sex therapist Laurie Mintz, PhD, author of Becoming Cliterate.

7. You might have pain from penetration

“Statistically, around 8% of women experience pain from penetrative sex,” explains Dr. Mintz. Even though they may want to have sex, it is possible that for those women, crying after sex could be from “the pain alone or in combination with the frustration they feel because of the pain,” Dr. Mintz adds.

Other causes of pain after sex might also be behind post-sex crying, like pelvic-floor muscle dysfunction or acute infection as experts have previously told Well+Good. For those, it’s best to see a doctor.

8. You might feel out-of-control

As discussed, feelings of orgasm can be…intense to say the least. Along those lines, another possible explanation of why an orgasm might cause you to cry during sex is that the heightened experience can be—in addition to full of pleasure—frightening or startling, leading people to feel out of control. This is a perfectly plausible bodily response, and understanding that orgasms and our varied reactions to them are also normal can facilitate comfort.“Learning to trust the body’s wisdom is a beautiful experience that can improve sexual and emotional satisfaction,” says sex therapist Christy Haas, LPCC.

9. You might be overwhelmed from the intense emotional connection

“Sex can be an intense activity, both physically and emotionally,” says Dr. Mintz. “For some, the experience of sex, be it before, during, or after is enough to evoke emotion and make them cry as a form of release, joy, or appreciation for either their partner or the experience,” she adds.

10. You might be reminded of ongoing relationship issues

“Sometimes people cry after sex because they have the realization that the relationship they are in is not in a good place, and they are suddenly forced to acknowledge that reality,” Dr. Mintz adds. Even if the sex itself is consensual and loving, it might bring to the surface feelings of disappointment in other areas of the relationship. It makes sense: the intense intimacy of sex in an otherwise dwindling relationship could definitely bring to light some feelings of sadness that you’re otherwise working overtime to force out of your mind.

11. You might be releasing stress

For many, sex is a form of stress-release. As Dr. Mintz explains, for some people, crying during sex can serve as a release of stress or emotions. “An orgasm has the power to create significant changes in both the mind and body,” Dr. Mintz adds. While some people might reach for a stress ball or hit the gym, others might find crying during sex a natural way to release those pent-up feelings from the workweek. To each their own!

12. You might just be appreciating the escape

And finally, you might just be overcome with gratitude for the distraction that sex provides from your everyday life. “For many, sex can be an escape from the monotony of day-to-day life, which isn’t always easy.” Mintz says. “A good sexual experience can allow someone to be ‘transported’ for that period of time, which can be enough to make them cry,” she adds.

What do I do if I've cried during sex?

While our experts note that crying during or after sex isn’t necessarily problematic, 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 might also be advisable.

However, 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.

How do I respond to a partner crying during sex?

“If your partner is crying during sex, check in with them about what [feelings] are coming up and if they would like to stop,” says Dr. Needle, adding that the best course of action may be to“be present, empathize, and see what they might need from you in that moment.”

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