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The Orion

Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Emotional responses to sex are normal

Photo credit: Bobbie Rae Jones

Strong emotional responses tend to make people feel uncomfortable. I feel embarrassed talking about it, but I have been overcome by my emotions after sex more than once.

The most recent time was at the end of a very stressful week. I was hopeful that having sex would help alleviate some of the stress. After reaching my orgasm I felt the warmth creep into my cheeks and my eyes swell with tears.

My partner asked what was wrong and if I was OK. I felt OK, but I had become overwhelmed with an emotional release.

I felt so much relief from being able to relax that all I could figure was that it was like removing a hairball from a clogged drain. Relaxing was like unclogging my emotional drain.

He pulls me close to him and cuddles me until my mixture of laughing from embarrassment and the tears from emotional flooding stop. He asks again if I’m OK while letting me know that my reaction is all right.

This brought me later to the question: Why did I cry, is it normal and what else is going on with us during sex?

  • Crying is actually a common thing after sex. In Women’s Health, Heather Meggers-Wright, Ph.D., sex therapist said, “People sometimes cry during good sex because of the release of oxytocin, which can magnify emotions.”
  • Postcoital Dysphoria or PCD is another form of crying after sex. These tears are feelings of sadness and anxiety after sex.
  • Little giggles or full on laughter can happen too.

So whats going on, on the inside? There is a mixture of most of these hormones or chemicals occurring in both parties, but I have separated them into which group they have a larger effect on.


  • Oxytocin or the cuddle hormone is released which causes us to bond after sex. Daily Mail said, “Women are more likely to let their guard down and fall in love after sex but the body doesn’t know if it’s a casual fling or marriage material.”


Dopamine is released in men at a high level, causing men to be more likely to “suffer from sex addiction,” says Anna Hodgekiss.

  • Prolactin “rises sharply immediately after orgasm,” as mentioned in the article “The Chemicals that Fuel Your Sex Life” by Oskar McHendry. This can cause a guy’s brain to go on to other things after he orgasms.
  • Serotonin is released right after orgasm and helps to sooth us after the healthy romp in the sheets. In men, serotonin mixed with oxytocin causes a “sleep-inducing effect.” The article at the Digital Journal also points out that a male’s “prefrontal cortex ‘switches off’ after an orgasm.”

The other hormones involved that affect both men and women are:

  • Endorphins which can numb pain could be what Barry Komisarek found in his study on women’s brains during sexual response and orgasm. Anna Hodgekiss refers to his study when writing, “sexual arousal numbs the female nervous system to such an extent that a women doesn’t feel as much pain — only pleasure.”
  • Testosterone promotes the sex drive in both men and women. The article “Sex Hormones and Womanly Passions” says, “taking contraceptive pills, which renders testosterone inactive which interferes with lubrication and decreases sexual enjoyment.”
  • The article “Mystery Solved” even said, “You should consider giggles (or tears) a reassuring sign about the status of your relationship. If getting physical with someone can move you that much, it’s probably because you have a profound, intimate relationship.”

Knowing that the chemical cocktail during and after sex can cause some intense responses gives me comfort. I hope that I don’t have such an unpredictable response again, but if I do, I’ll know it’s normal.

Joann Chevaillier can be reached at [email protected] or @jmc_8284 on Twitter.

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Joann Chevaillier, Staff Writer

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