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For some young women, sex leaves no afterglow, new research suggests.
In a small study, one out of three young women experienced postcoital blues at some point in their lives and 10 percent said they frequently or almost always felt sad after sex. The study involved more than 200 young Australian women, so more research would be needed to see if the results are the same in other age groups and locales.
"Under normal circumstances, the resolution phase of sexual activity, or period just after sex, elicits sensations of well-being, along with psychological and physical relaxation," study author Robert Schweitzer of the Queensland Institute of Technology said in a statement. "However, individuals who experience postcoital dysphoria [sadness] may express their immediate feelings after sexual intercourse in terms of melancholy, tearfulness, anxiety, irritability or feeling of restlessness."
Schweitzer said the cause of these feelings is unknown. One woman surveyed said that she feels "melancholy" after sex, but said those feelings are disconnected from her feelings of love and affection for her partner. [Naked Truth: Why Women Shrug off Lousy Sex]
Prior sexual abuse can cause feelings of shame, guilt and loss in later sexual encounters, Schweitzer said. However, his research, published in the quarterly International Journal of Sexual Health, found only a moderate correlation between prior sexual abuse and later post-sex letdown, he said.
"This suggests other factors, such as biological predisposition, may be more important," Schweitzer said.
The next step, Schweitzer said, is to look at women's emotional characteristics and how they view themselves to see if personality contributes to bedroom blues.