International Journal of Sexual Health

Pages 14-25 | Received 01 Mar 2010, Accepted 07 Jul 2010
Brian S. Bird,Robert D. Schweitzer &Donald S. Strassberg

This study examined the lifetime and 4-week prevalence of postcoital dysphoria (PCD) and its relationship with psychological distress and reports of past sexual abuse. Among 222 female university students, 32.9% reported having ever experienced PCD whereas 10% reported experiencing PCD in the previous 4 weeks. Multiple regression analyses revealed support for the hypothesis that lifetime and 4-week prevalence of PCD would be positively correlated with psychological distress. Lifetime prevalence of PCD, but not 4-week prevalence, was also correlated with reports of childhood sexual abuse. These factors explained only minimal variance in PCD prevalence, prompting further research into this significantly underinvestigated sexual difficulty.


The findings of the current study suggest that a proportion of women experience PCD and that this phenomenon may be more prevalent than might be suggested by the absence of research in this area. Psychological distress and reports of past sexual abuse were found to be modestly associated with PCD. However, the small amount of variance in PCD explained by these factors suggest that other variables, possibly including a biological predisposition, may be more important in understanding the phenomenon and identifying women at risk of experiencing PCD. This possibility needs to be explored in future research using larger sample sizes, community samples, and valid, reliable scales for assessing PCD. Our understanding of PCD may benefit most at this stage from qualitative studies and structured interviews with individuals who experience the phenomenon, allowing for the gathering of more enriched information than that which can be acquired through quantitative research.