How Might Epilepsy Affect One’s Sexual Health?

How Might Epilepsy Affect One’s Sexual Health?

Epilepsy is a neurological disorder characterized by recurrent seizures that can impact various aspects of a person’s life. While the primary focus of treatment is often on seizure management and medication, it is also important to recognize that epilepsy can have a significant impact on an individual’s overall well-being, including their sexual health.

For example, most individuals with epilepsy are prescribed antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) to control their seizures. Unfortunately, many of these medications can have adverse effects on sexual health. Some common side effects include decreased libido, erectile dysfunction (ED) in people who have penises, and anorgasmia, which is difficulty with achieving orgasm (or the inability to do so). These side effects can significantly affect a person’s sexual functioning and satisfaction.

Another way in which epilepsy may impact one’s sexual functioning is through their psychological health. Living with epilepsy can be emotionally taxing and may contribute to anxiety and/or depression. Since mental health is intricately connected to one’s sexual health, this can further exacerbate sexual issues. Specifically, anxiety and depression may reduce a person’s sexual desire, cause difficulties with sexual arousal, and lead to an overall decrease in sexual satisfaction.

Epilepsy can also influence a person’s self-esteem and body image. The physical scars from seizures can affect an individual’s self-confidence, making them feel less desirable or less attractive. This, in turn, can lead to sexual difficulties, as self-esteem and body image are closely linked to sexual satisfaction.

Many individuals with epilepsy worry about experiencing a seizure during sexual activity, which can be a significant source of stress and anxiety. The fear of having a seizure may lead to avoidance of sexual activity, making it difficult to maintain a healthy sex life.

Fortunately, there are ways for people with epilepsy to manage and optimize their sexual health while living with their condition. The following are some helpful tips for doing this:

Consult with a health care provider: If you are experiencing sexual health issues related to epilepsy, it is a good idea to speak with your health care provider. They can help determine whether the medication you are taking is contributing to the problem and, if necessary, adjust your treatment plan to minimize negative side effects.

Seek therapy: Individual or couples therapy can be beneficial in addressing the emotional and psychological aspects of epilepsy and its impact on sexual health. Therapists can provide guidance on improving self-esteem, managing anxiety and depression, and addressing relationship dynamics.

Communication: Clear and honest communication is key to maintaining a healthy sex life while living with epilepsy. Talk to your partner about your concerns, fears, and any specific intimacy-related needs. This can help both partners understand each other better and find ways to navigate the challenges together.

Epilepsy management: Proper management of epilepsy is essential. Taking your medication and following your health care provider’s recommendations for seizure control can reduce the frequency and severity of seizures during sexual activity.

Epilepsy can indeed affect one’s sexual health, but it is important to remember that sexual health can be managed and improved with the right strategies. Consulting with a health care provider, seeking therapy, practicing open communication, and managing your condition properly are all valuable steps toward addressing these challenges.


  • Jones, J. E., & Reuber, M. (2016). The impact of epilepsy on patients’ sexual behavior and relationships. Seizure, 35, 70-74.

  • Herzog, A. G. (2008). Disorders of sexual function in patients with epilepsy: An overview of prevalence, etiology, evaluation, and treatment. Epilepsia, 49(S3), 70-73.

  • Fisher, R. S., Acevedo, C., Arzimanoglou, A., Bogacz, A., Cross, J. H., Elger, C. E., Engel, J., Jr, Forsgren, L., French, J. A., Glynn, M., Hesdorffer, D. C., Lee, B. I., Mathern, G. W., Moshé, S. L., Perucca, E., Scheffer, I. E., Tomson, T., Watanabe, M., & Wiebe, S. (2014). ILAE official report: a practical clinical definition of epilepsy. Epilepsia, 55(4), 475-482.

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