Just about all aspects of a person’s life can be impacted by a diagnosis of epilepsy, including working, driving and family life. But the effects of epilepsy can reach into the bedroom as well, causing sexual dysfunction and disrupting intimate relationships.
“Patients often think about the things they can’t do on a larger scale, but a lot of them don’t think about how it’s affecting them in the bedroom,” says epileptologist Eddie Chengo. “Sexual function can also be part of epilepsy, and if it’s affecting a patient’s quality of life, they need to bring it to their doctor’s attention.”
While the exact reasons aren't entirely understood, epilepsy may impact your sex life in the following ways:
- Decreased interest in sex
- Difficulty becoming aroused
- Pain during intercourse for women
- Trouble sustaining erections
- Seizures during or after sex
Tips to a better sex life with epilepsy
Though strenuous physical activity and powerful emotions can trigger seizures in some people, there's no concrete evidence that sex itself causes seizures.
If you have epilepsy, there are many things you can do to enjoy sex despite your seizure disorder:
• Talk to your doctor
Don't be embarrassed or shy. Together, you can get to the bottom of what's causing problems in your sex life. There may be a simple, and highly treatable, explanation for your difficulties. It could be other medical conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, or thyroid problems to blame and not your epilepsy. If you don't talk about it and fail to do some investigating, you'll never know what the problem is or how to fix it.
• Get seizures under control
People whose seizures are well-controlled may experience less anxiety about sex, and hence have fewer sexual problems.
• Try other medications
Work with an endocrinologist (a hormone specialist), along with your neurologist, to balance good seizure control with a suitable level of sex hormones. Changing medications, or using the same medication at a different dose, may control your seizures without compromising your sex life.
• Consider medications to improve sex
If you are a woman who experiences vaginal dryness, your doctor can prescribe a special lubricant or cream to alleviate pain during sex. Effective medications can also be prescribed for men who experience difficulty with erections.
• Consider sex therapy
A sex therapist can help you deal with anxiety about having seizures during sex and may also help treat any underlying depression that could be affecting your feelings about sex.
You can enjoy sex despite epilepsy. Work closely with your doctors to find the right combinations of medications and seek out additional advice and support if necessary so you can have the healthy, happy sex life you deserve.
- The writer is the National Epilepsy Coordination Committee (NECC) National Secretary (Kenya), and an Epilepsy Awareness ambassador
Do not miss out on the latest news. Join the Eve Digital Telegram channel HERE.
The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Evewoman.co.ke