“Yes, yes, YES! I’m coming, I’m coming, I’m … crying?”
If that line could have spewed out of your mouth or raced through your mind during a sexual escapade or two, I can guess what next thought was: WTF?
“Usually, if we start crying during sex, especially as women, we try to immediately shut it down, like ‘What the eff is happening?’ or, ‘I shouldn’t be crying right now—he’s going to be so uncomfortable,’ or, ‘What is wrong with me?’” says Rachel Wright, a licensed marriage and family therapist in York City. But “while it may not be your favourite way to engage in sex,” she adds, “crying is totally normal.”
That’s because though crying is typically perceived as a sign of sadness, in reality, it’s your body saying “too much!” of any emotion, be it joy, fear, happiness or pain, says Laura McGuire, a sexologist in Florida. Wright actually calls crying “emotional sweating.” But like sweating, tears sometimes seem to pour out at The Worst Time ever.
If your partner seems confused, “being honest is the best policy,” says Dr. Sarah Nasserzadeh, a psychosexual therapist in Palo Alto, California and co-author of Orgasm Answer Guide. Yep, that means opening up about what you think triggered those tears—like one of the reasons below.
1. Your hormones are off.
Whether you’re PMS-ing hard, undergoing fertility treatment, or pregnant, you know hormonal spikes, dips, and shifts can trigger a waterfall, and that’s the case whether you’re watching a commercial or spread-eagle in bed, says Nasserzadeh.
2. You’re drunk.
That last cocktail might have given you the liquid courage to ask a crush to walk you all the way home, but you can also curse it for lowering the inhibitions that typically keep your emotions close to your chest, Nasserzadeh says.
3. You’re really relaxed.
Know why sex can feel so good? Because the rest of the day (or week or month) you’re tense and the deed forces you to relax.
When sex is really good and we’re completely relaxed for a few seconds—sometimes minutes—it allows all these things to come out,” McGuire says. It’s the exact same reason you may cry during a massage or yoga class.
4. You feel super-connected.
Sometimes, there are no words for how deeply connected you feel to your partner. Instead, there are tears, Nasserzadeh says. “If sex is a way of deep connection with a partner, your body might choose this form of release to communicate your emotions,” she says.
That’s pretty typical, Wright adds, since sex releases oxytocin, and oxytocin promotes bonding, trust, and empathy. “It’s easy to feel safe to release emotions that may have been bottled up for whatever reason,” she says.
5. You’re grieving.
Did a relative or pet die recently? Or perhaps you got laid off or, heck, you’re still not over your last breakup. Grief can strike anywhere—walking down the sidewalk, in the middle of work meeting, or, yep, mid-romp.
6. It hurts.
Your partner may jump to this conclusion if you cry during sex and, sometimes, he or she is right. Painful sex may simply mean you need to slow down or grab some lube, or, if it happens frequently, may signal any number of (treatable) conditions like endometriosis, an infection, or pelvic inflammatory disease. Stop the sesh and schedule an appointment with a gynae stat.
7. It hurts so good.
Tears can also strike due to the type of pain you asked for in the form of (consensual) choking, spanking, slapping, or getting tied up.
“Both physical pain and pleasure activate the same part of the brain,” Wright says, “so it’s totally possible to be crying from pain and be enjoying it at the same time.”
8. You’re ashamed or feeling guilty.
Nasserzadeh has worked with women who tell her they’ve cried during sex because they don’t feel like they “deserve” to take a moment to enjoy themselves. “They feel like, as a mother, they should be focusing on their child and not on self-pleasuring,” she says.
PSA though: You cannot take care of anyone else unless you take care of yourself. “If you’re feeling shame around sex or intimacy in general, and it comes out in the form of tears, it’s a good indicator to explore that shame outside of the bedroom and see what it’s about,” Wright adds.
9. You’re so happy!
Maybe you’ve had a seriously long dry spell, or maybe sex just has never been that fun or enjoyable to you. “If you’ve never had (or rarely had) satisfying sexual interactions, it might be so wonderful that tears would be a sign of gratitude, joy or happiness,” Nasserzadeh says. Let ‘em flow, let ‘em flow, let ‘em flow!
10. You’re triggered.
Maybe you’re a survivor of sexual assault, or maybe something a little off happened once that you thought you’d forgotten. Cue sex to remind you. “Trauma gets so deeply embedded in our minds and memory that it’s hard to remember exactly what happened and something [sex] will bring it up,” McGuire says. Stop having sex if you feel like your brain and body are dissociating, if painful memories are coming up, or you feel out of control, Wright advises.
Whether or not you can put your finger on it, see a professional if “you’re crying a lot and you’re not able to identify why, or even if it’s once but the feelings that are coming with that are sudden fear or a sudden sense of dread,” McGuire suggests.
This article was originally published on www.womenshealthmag.com