You’ve just had a mind-melting, sea-foaming cumshot worthy of a 1% OnlyFans account when you abruptly feel sad. Depressed and maybe even a little ashamed that you succumbed to your horniness. “Maybe I shouldn’t have done that,” you might say to yourself. “There are so many other things I can be doing.”
If you’ve ever found yourself feeling this way after orgasm, you’re not alone. Post-coital tristesse (aka “post-nut syndrome”) is a real scientific phenomenon. Just like the name implies, it’s the wave of guilt or sadness that rushes over you after sex or masturbation. You feel a little ashamed of what you’ve done, which now feels like it was all in some mind-altering state.
It’s a phenomenon mostly reported in males and has been known to last anywhere between five minutes to an hour after orgasm. Although it varies in degree from person to person, it’s so wide and prevalent across humanity that even the great philosopher Spinoza spilled ink over his own post-nut aggressions:
“For as far as sensual pleasure is concerned, the mind is so caught up in it, as if at peace in a true good, that it is quite prevented from thinking of anything else. But after the enjoyment of sensual pleasure is passed, the greatest sadness follows. If this does not completely engross, still it thoroughly confuses and dulls the mind.”
Although it may come as some consolation to know that even the oldest philosophers also grew anxious while their cum dried up on their bellies, knowing this alone doesn’t necessarily make it easier to deal with. So what can you do about it? How do you fix it? Is it something that actually needs fixing?
Knowing a bit of the science behind what goes on in our brain during sex might be a good start. In a nutshell: the lateral orbitofrontal cortex becomes far less active when we’re plowing, mounting, or getting jackhammered. This is the part of the brain involved with value judgements and decision making. You become less inhibited. You act in the moment. You scream “harder” even though he’s already going faster than a steam engine. You get in positions and kinks that would make your lateral orbitofrontal cortex blush if it weren’t on vacation. And when you finally cum, your brain works double duty to produce a load of different neurochemicals and hormones. Dopamine gives the “pleasure and reward” factor. Oxytocin helps you feel affection and attachment. And prolactin provides that final satisfaction, like feeling full after a pang of hunger.
But when you’re finally reaching for the towel or wiping the cum off his mouth with your hand, the dopamine levels start to decrease. Your lateral orbitofrontal cortex comes back to check in. Your horniness has lessened, if not entirely gone away. Your cock gets smaller. Your balls are lighter. And all of the sudden, the world seems bigger.
It’s at this point that our sexual urges no longer seem as appealing as they were minutes earlier. The important thing to know is that there’s absolutely nothing strange or abnormal about this. Sex is a fucking rollercoaster and studies of the brain prove it. But it’s also important to be aware that this is the point when societal moralisms about sex try to kick their way back in, and certain taboo sexual practices or kinks may start to feel shameful or embarrassing. Post-nut syndrome feels worse when these thoughts become so internalized that you see your sexual desires as some monstrosity in need of exorcism. Cue depression, shame, anxiety, and aggression.
Another healthier approach would be to embrace your post-nut moment of relief and use it for something good. Comedian Dave Chapelle had something to say about post-nut syndrome that resonates with me: “When a guy bust a nut, right after that, there’s a window of six minutes where he does the most rational thinking he ever does.”
Of course, it takes practice to learn the difference between a moralism that refuses to acknowledge people as sexual beings with beautiful urges, and the rush of relief that allows you to think of things that may have taken a backseat while your cock was on full blast.
The former can easily make you feel that you should start avoiding sex entirely. But the latter could be used as a superpower. I’ve personally come to make some big life decisions immediately following orgasm since all of my immediate libidinal urges have been satisfied.
All in all, sex not only feels great, but it can also give you the superpower of clarity afterwards. But only if you let it.
And if you need some help getting to that post-nut moment, may we recommend a few favorites?