Will having epilepsy affect my sex life?
Many women with epilepsy can have a healthy sex life, but epilepsy can sometimes cause problems with sex.
More women with epilepsy have problems with their sex life than women who don’t have epilepsy. These may include problems with:
- Becoming aroused
- Having an orgasm
- Having little interest in sex
- Pain during or after sex
There are some possible causes of sexual problems that could affect you as someone with epilepsy:
Some epilepsy medicines might affect your interest in, or ability to have sex. This is because the medicines change the hormone levels in your body and these hormones play a role in your sex life. For example, your levels of luteinizing hormone might be lowered, which can cause you to have less interest in sex.
If you think your epilepsy medicine might be having an effect on your sex life, talk to your GP, epilepsy specialist nurse or epilepsy specialist. They will be able to talk to you about your treatment options and things that could help.
The effect of epilepsy itself
The type of seizures you have, whether or not they are controlled by medicine, and which part of the brain is affected may all make a difference to whether your sex life is affected. Many of the larger studies have not looked at whether seizures in particular parts of the brain have a higher risk for problems with your sex life. One study found an increased risk with seizures in the temporal lobe of the brain.
Worry about seizures
You might be worried about having a seizure during sex, but very few people have reported this happening. Thinking that this might happen could have an effect on your sex life. If you do notice an increase in seizures relating to sex, it’s worth talking to your doctor.
Depression and anxiety
Treating sexual problems
Problems with sex can have a big impact on your quality of life. It’s worth talking to your GP if you have any concerns about your sex life. They can do an assessment to look at the possible causes and advise you about things that could help. These might include:
- Making lifestyle changes
- Taking medicine to help with the problem
- Making changes to existing medicines or contraception you are using
- Talking therapies such as counselling or cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)
If your GP thinks your sexual problems could be linked to your epilepsy or your epilepsy medicines, they will usually refer you to an epilepsy specialist for further advice. If it is safe to do so, your specialist may suggest making changes to your epilepsy medicine. It’s important not to make any changes to your epilepsy medicines without getting medical advice.
You can also access support and treatment for sexual health issues at a sexual health clinic. These can provide the same treatment you would get at your GP surgery. Many sexual health clinics offer a walk-in service.
The Sexual Advice Association also have information and factsheets about different sexual problems.
Research into epilepsy and fertility in women is currently limited. There have been some studies which have looked at whether women with epilepsy have an increased risk of fertility problems. However, these studies have often found different results.
One recent study suggests that unless you already have a known fertility problem, you should have the same chance of getting pregnant as someone without epilepsy. This study did not include women who already had a known fertility problem, such as Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS).
Other studies have found epilepsy and epilepsy medicines can cause certain health problems, which could make it harder for some women to get pregnant. For example, women with epilepsy are more likely to have problems with their periods and PCOS.
More research is needed to fully understand how epilepsy and epilepsy medicines might affect fertility.
For more information, visit our page on epilepsy and planning a baby.