Sexual Health Q&A

How might epilepsy affect sexual relationships?

Many people with epilepsy are able to enjoy sex without restrictions, but there can be some challenges.

Sexual dysfunctions - such as loss of desire, an inability to reach orgasm, erectile dysfunction in men, and poor vaginal lubrication in women – are common.

Some of these problems may be side effects of antiepileptic medications. These drugs can make a person with epilepsy feel very tired, to the point that he or she doesn’t have the energy for sex. Some drugs affect sex hormones, which can interfere with normal arousal and response. There may also be “cosmetic side effects” such as additional facial or body hair, gum overgrowth, acne, and weight gain or loss. These changes in appearance may lower self-esteem, making the person experiencing them feel less attractive and more self-conscious.

Sexual issues aren’t always due to medication side effects. Living with epilepsy can take its toll on sexual health, as it can cause fatigue, changes in sex hormones, headaches, and depression – all factors that can affect sexual function.

Anxiety is common among people with epilepsy when they want to have sex. Some couples fear that sex might trigger a seizure.