Ever feel inexplicably sad after an orgasm? I don’t mean the abject horror of realizing your roommate has silently walked in and out of your room while you were getting to know yourself—really gunning for it, laptop open, pants off, socks on. That’s called embarrassment, and can subsequently make it very hard to look that person in the eye.
The sensation I’m talking about is subtle. It’s the fleeting despair that occasionally accompanies even the least noteworthy climax. Not everyone experiences it, but if you have you’ll know exactly what I mean.
Called post-coital tristesse (PCT) by people who know about such things, the melancholy one can feel after an orgasm is actually a very well documented phenomenon, with references dating back to the Roman Empire. Sometime around 150 AD, in fact, the prominent Greek physician Galen wrote, “Every animal is sad after coitus except the human female and the rooster.”
Mind you, as prominent as he was, Galen didn’t have it all figured out; both sexes are affected by PCT and the experience can differ radically from person to person. It’s also not to be confused with post-orgasmic illness syndrome (POIS), a rare condition that could be due to anything from a lack of progesterone to a semen allergy. The syndrome can cause sufferers to experience a wide range of symptoms, including apathy, itchy eyes, and weeping, for up to several days after an orgasm.