Crymaxing: When An Orgasm Makes You Cry

Photographed by Lula Hyers.
We know that orgasms can be accompanied by moaning, shaking, and even squirting. But what about crying? Crying during orgasm, sometimes called “crymaxing,” can be surprising if it happens to you. But it actually makes a lot of sense.
When we orgasm, our brains and bodies are flooded with hormones, including surges of oxytocin (the “cuddle hormone”) and dopamine (the “happy hormone”). Our bodies also have a physical reaction: you might notice shaking in your legs, a flush on your chest, or an increase in your heart rate. Basically, orgasms can be really intense — and different people have different reactions to them, including crying.
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One 2017 study identified many different kinds of “peri-orgasmic phenomena,” meaning “unusual physical or psychological symptoms subjectively experienced by some individuals as part of the orgasm response.” Crying was on the list, as were laughing, sneezing, headaches, and even foot pain. The authors concluded that the study “confirms the existence of diverse and frequently replicated peri-orgasmic phenomena.” In other words, there's a lot of variation in how different people react to orgasm.
It’s important to note that crying during orgasm doesn’t necessarily mean you feel sad — in fact, many people who cry during orgasm say that they feel great. “It is very common for me to cry when I’ve had an amazing orgasm! I’ve had to warn guys lol,” wrote one crymaxer on Reddit. “It’s happened to me immediately after my best/hardest orgasms! It’s amazing,” another added.
Other people might feel sad or distressed when they orgasm — particularly if there's an exacerbating factor, for example if they’re having sex with an ex, or are simply stressed about work. “Deeply loving orgasms — orgasms that have involved a lot of build up, orgasms that function as a stress reliever, barbiturate, or sedative, or orgasms that you feel ambivalent about — are all examples of orgasms in the context of emotional intensity, and they’re all potential sources of post-orgasm weeping,” Emily Nagoski, author of Come as You Are: The Surprising New Science That Will Transform Your Sex Life, once wrote for health platform ShareCare.
She added, “See, crying is about intensity, not valence. It doesn’t matter what you feel, it’s how much you feel. People weep with joy as well as sorrow. It’s simply the release of intense emotions. Orgasm too is the release of intense emotion — indeed, orgasm research often characterized in the psychology literature as emotion research."
If you cry during orgasm because you feel distressed or in pain, there might be something else going on — for example, there’s a link between painful orgasms and certain medications, and sex can be sometimes be emotionally distressing for survivors of sexual trauma. If crying during orgasm feels bad, it’s a good idea to visit a therapist or an OB/GYN (depending on if the distress is emotional or physical). But if you’re crying and you feel good, then don’t worry about the tears. They’re just one of the many ways our bodies can react to orgasm.
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