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Study Says Nearly 50% Women Feel Sad Post Sex, And It’s A Real Health Condition

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By Rohini Banerjee for Cake:

1444280368181When we think about sex, we usually think about it as something wonderful, something immensely satisfying and liberating. While this is not wrong, this is also not always true. Especially for women. A shocking new study has found that nearly 50 percent of women experience post-sex depression at least once in their lifetime.

The study, which was published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine was conducted by Dr. Robert Schweitzer, who along with his colleagues approached over 230 female university students as a sample and asked them to complete an online survey to determine if they experienced any symptoms of post-coital dysphoria (PCD), or what’s commonly known as “post-sex blues.” According to their report, the symptoms commonly experienced as a result of PCD include anxiety, agitation, aggression, tearfulness, and a sense of melancholy or depression following sexual intercourse. About 46 percent of the women surveyed said they experienced some form of the above symptoms at least once in their lifetime, while five percent said they had experienced it a few times over the past four weeks.

This is truly a shocking and serious conclusion, and something that requires to be discussed more often. These symptoms are experienced by so many women (and even men) without them even realising that this can be part of a larger condition, which might even need medical attention.

Let’s Talk About (Post) Sex (Dysphoria)

So, what is this condition, and how do you know that you have it? The official, scientific name for it is post-coital tristesse, and it is actually a commonly documented phenomenon, dating back to the Roman Empire. Feeling sad, anxious, distressed, aggressive after sex — these are some of the common symptoms like earlier mentioned, and can happen immediately after sex and can last up to two hours after it. The condition is in no way related to the kind of sex you are having; and in fact, can happen even after good sex. Though there is still research going on about what causes the disease, scientists have mostly attributed it to a shift in hormonal balance. After orgasming, the body releases a hormone called prolactin, in order to counteract the release of dopamine, which is the hormone responsible for sexual arousal. So, when the amount of prolactin released is either too less or too excessive, it can lead to post-coital dysphoria.

The Cure

In 2009, American psychiatrist Richard Friedman investigated possible biological explanations for post-coital dysphoria. He wanted to prove that the phenomenon was, in some cases related to the part of the brain that deals with fear and anxiety. To test his hypothesis, Friedman conducted a somewhat unorthodox experiment. A number of test subjects were given drugs normally used to treat depression, but their anti-depressive qualities didn’t take effect until the medication had been taken for a substantial amount of time, and what it did lead to was a decrease in sexual pleasure. As Friedman found, there was a relationship between the loss of sexual pleasure and a drop in feelings of post-sex sadness.

If people had intensely pleasurable orgasms, they were more likely to experience greater emotional crashes afterward. This is an even more disturbing discovery. As if women’s sexualities weren’t being policed enough, now they are in the constant threat of experiencing dysphoria even when they experience pleasurable orgasms. Although, more recent researchers of the disease say that this correlation is far too simplistic and that the condition is linked to that person’s individual responses to emotional attachments and connections, this is still a cause for major concern.

Since its causes are still so subjective and debatable, the cure is still uncertain. Therapy is one recourse one can pursue, but every person’s receptivity to therapy is subjective, so that is yet another uncertainty.

So what should we be doing to combat it? First of all, talk about it and make people — especially women — aware that this is an actual medical condition, and not something to ignore. Beyond that, we should keep our fingers crossed that more surveys are conducted on how to effectively combat post-sex blues, and that a solution to this problem arises soon.

Sex is not always the blissful, enjoyable activity that is portrayed as in popular media. It can come with serious medical (but not moral) repercussions. So it’s important to know how to be safe, and not just against STIs, but also psychological conditions such as this.

This article was originally published here on Cake.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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