There are a lot of things that can go wrong in the postcoital moment. You might not think about all the weird, sometimes uncomfortable reactions sex can bring on.
A little spotting after sex is normal and may be due to an inflammation of the cervix or vaginal tearing from rough sex. The spotting may be bright red or darker in color and it’s usually not an indicator of a serious problem.
Vaginal Bleeding or Spotting
Bleeding after sex, known as post-coital bleeding, can be alarming, especially if you’re not expecting your period. But it’s actually pretty common, and most of the time it isn’t anything to worry about.
Bleeding or spotting after sex can be caused by inflammation of the cervix, which is called cervicitis. It can happen because of sex, or it can be a side effect of sexually transmitted infections like chlamydia or gonorrhea. It can also occur because of cervical polyps, which are benign (non-cancerous) growths that appear on the opening of the cervix.
If you’re at the end of your period and not using birth control, light bleeding after sex is normal, as is spotting in the first trimester of pregnancy, when up to 25 percent of pregnancies show early signs of implantation bleeding, where the fertilized egg sticks to the uterus wall. Spotting can also happen if you accidentally bump the cervix during sex, or because of a condition called cervical ectropion, where the cells that line your cervix grow onto the outside of it, making them more likely to bleed if they’re irritated.
In rare cases, bleeding after sex can be a sign of cervical or uterine cancer. If you’re worried, talk to your doctor right away. They’ll have heard it all before and can advise you on the next steps.
Feelings of Pressure or Pain
The pain you feel right after sex (or during it, in the case of orgasm) is sometimes caused by muscular contractions. It’s pretty common, and it should go away with a few deep breaths and rest. The pain could also be from a muscle strain, or it may be something else, like a urinary tract infection, which can make your lower abdomen feel swollen and painful.
If you’re feeling a little pelvic pressure or cramping after sex, it may be a sign of vulva congestion syndrome, which causes a buildup of tissue in the area of the vulva and urethra. It’s more common in women, but it can affect men too. It can be triggered by things like having sex too soon after childbirth or surgery, or it may occur with penetrative sex in people who have a herpes sore or another STI.
Painful intercourse is called dyspareunia, and it’s a common experience for both men and women. It can be caused by things like having an inflamed hymen, vaginal dryness, or health conditions like endometriosis and fibroids. It can also be caused by having a cyst or tumor in the vulva, or it can happen if a person has had a previous pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) infection. The pain may be more severe with more intense sex or if it lasts longer than an hour.
Feelings of Euphoria or Anxiety
As sexual arousal increases, so does your heart rate and blood pressure. Your muscles tighten and your body begins to produce oxytocin, which promotes good blood flow to the genitals. As a result, the areola and nipples swell, and the clitoris becomes hard.
This is called vasocongestion, and it is a normal response to sexual arousal. Some women and men also experience a tingling or burning sensation as the oxytocin rush causes your blood vessels to dilate and contract. This can be uncomfortable, but is not dangerous.
The final phase of sexual arousal is known as orgasm. This is when the oxytocin surge reaches a peak and triggers intense muscle contractions in the uterus and penis. It is at this point that you may begin to ejaculate or experience a vaginal orgasm.
After the orgasm, your body releases all of its pent-up energy during the resolution phase. As a result, your heart rate slows down, and your breathing calms down. Your tensed muscles relax, and the penis and vagina return to their original size, color, and shape. Your feelings may range from a sense of calm satisfaction to tiredness.
It is not unusual for some women to feel sad or irritable after orgasm, even if it was consensual and enjoyable. This is known as post-coital dysphoria (PCD) and can be caused by many things, including stress, sexual trauma or underlying relationship issues. If this is the case for you, it’s a good idea to seek therapy or counseling.
Generally speaking, sex is an experience that is supposed to bring feelings of connection, pleasure and happiness. But sex can also elicit a range of other emotions, including sadness and anxiety, that may result in crying. This can be particularly troubling if you’re not sure what’s causing you to feel down after sex and if it happens regularly.
If you’re not sure what’s triggering your post-sex emotions or why they’re resulting in tears, it’s important to communicate with your partner and find out what’s going on. Sometimes it could be as simple as feeling disappointed if you’re not receiving what you expected from the sexual interaction or if it didn’t meet your expectations.
Then again, you might just be shedding tears because of a general sense of sadness that’s unrelated to sexual activity. If you’re struggling with depression or a mental health condition, it might be time to seek professional help.
Crying after sex is a common phenomenon and shouldn’t be seen as a negative sign of a bad relationship or as something to be ashamed of. But it’s important to understand why you’re feeling sad, anxious or tearful so that you can address the underlying issues.