What Nausea After Sex Really Means

Photographed by Lula Hyers.
Sometimes, the afterglow of an orgasm has the power to drown out all other feelings or sensations going on in your body besides pleasure. That's why you feel so damn relaxed after sex. But there's one post-sex symptom that tends to put a damper on your mood: nausea. Many people might associate sex and nausea with morning sickness, an early symptom of pregnancy. So, does postcoital nausea mean that you're pregnant, or is it just a normal side effect of sex?
"[Nausea is] not normal, but yes, some people may feel nauseous after sex," says Adeeti Gupta, MD, FACOG, Ob/Gyn and founder of Walk-In Gyn Care in Manhattan. The good news — if you're not trying to get pregnant — is that nausea immediately following sex is most likely not a symptom of pregnancy. Morning sickness usually starts around two weeks after a missed period or six weeks into pregnancy — not the second sex ends.
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If it's not pregnancy, nausea after sex could mean a number of different things, Dr. Gupta says. Some people with health conditions like endometriosis might experience nausea due to pelvic pressure during sex, especially if it's around the time of their period, she says. For others, penetrative sex can be uncomfortable or distracting in general. The cervix, which is the donut-shaped tissue that's considered the "mouth" of the uterus, is highly sensitive, and stimulation can be painful to a point that makes some people nauseous. Or if you have sex after eating a heavy meal, it could just be constipation or bloating, she says.
Then, there are the less-physical causes of post-sex nausea. In some cases, if you're nervous or anxious about having sex, it can cause butterflies in your stomach or nausea, Dr. Gupta says. "Usually this kind of nausea will subside once the pleasurable experience of sex sets in," she says. Although, if anxiety and sickness hit you most times when you have sex, then that could be your body's not-so-subtle way of telling you that there's something about the experience or person that's making you uncomfortable. In which case, it's worth it to explore your emotional reaction with a mental health professional who you trust, like a therapist or counselor.
Ultimately, sex should make you feel good, and usually, nausea doesn't feel "good." While it might seem like there's something wrong with you if sex makes you feel sick, there's probably a very logical explanation as to why you feel this way. Talking to your Ob/Gyn is a good step, Dr. Gupta says, because they can rule out any health conditions that could cause it. From there, the key is finding ways to have sex that make you comfortable and blissed out — because that's what sex is all about.
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