Sex isn’t always gratifying. But even when it’s bad, it’s not typically nauseating—feeling sick after doing the deed just isn’t normal. So what does it actually mean when you feel queasy after getting frisky?

There are physical and psychological causes

If you’re lucky, the discomfort you experience is a vagal response (a reaction that, due to certain triggers, causes your heart rate and blood pressure to drop suddenly) to excessively deep penetration. Like, when the penis goes so far into you that it hits your cervix or uterus.

But it can also be a sign of a more serious underlying medical problem.

“If the nausea is associated with pelvic pain after orgasm, you could be experiencing dysorgasmia, which entails painful spasms of the pelvic muscles during or after orgasm,” says Dr Grace Huang, a resident doctor at DTAP Clinic Robertson.

“If the nausea is associated with painful intercourse, you could be experiencing dyspareunia, [which entails genital pain before, during or after intercourse].”

She notes that both of these causes can be linked to underlying medical conditions such as endometriosis (a condition where the endometrial tissue which lines the womb grows in other areas of the body outside the womb), ovarian cysts or pelvic inflammatory disease (where infections like chlamydia and gonorrhea cause an inflammation in the uterus, fallopian tubes or ovaries).

But that’s not to say that something is necessarily wrong with your body. The nausea you feel can also be due to psychological causes.

“This is especially so if you have had unpleasant sexual experiences or have gone through sexual trauma,” says Dr Huang.

You don’t have to live with it forever 

Given the conditions that nausea after sex could be a symptom of, it’s best that you see a doctor if this is something that happens regularly. The type of treatment or advice you receive will depend on the cause of your discomfort.

“If the nausea is due to deep penetration, we’ll advise switching up sexual positions and experimenting with your partner to find an alternative that is both comfortable and pleasurable for the both of you,” says Dr Huang.

“If the nausea is related to underlying medical problems, treatment of the underlying conditions will probably help to reduce symptoms. And if it’s associated with psychological distress related to previous sexual experiences or trauma, we may ask that you consider seeing a psychologist or counsellor who will be able to help you work through it.”

It’s one thing to have sh*tty sex, and a whole other thing to feel sh*tty after sex. If you’ve been struggling with nausea after sex, it’s about time you get yourself checked.