Abstract

Objective

The potential impact of epilepsy on sexual function is important for patient welfare, but often neglected. This study explored the occurrences of different sexual problems in patients with both well‐controlled and mostly refractory epilepsy, and compared these with equivalent information from the general population.

Methods

Between 2015 and 2017, a total of 221 adult inpatients and outpatients, mostly with intractable epilepsy, at the National Centre for Epilepsy in Norway, and 78 outpatients with well‐controlled epilepsy at Lillehammer hospital participated in a questionnaire survey on sexual function. Information on the individual patient’s epilepsy was collected. The results were compared with equivalent data on sexual function from 1671 adult Norwegians in the general population.

Results

Patients with epilepsy reported a significantly higher frequency of problems with orgasm, dyspareunia, erectile dysfunction, and feelings of sexual deviance. However, reduced sexual desire, premature ejaculation/climax, and vaginal dryness occurred at similar frequencies in the general population. After controlling for gender, we found no significant association between sexual problems and seizure control or use of enzyme‐inducing antiepileptic drugs. In both genders, feelings of sexual deviance were associated with lower quality of life. Fewer patients with epilepsy were satisfied with their sex lives. The perception of sex as an important part of daily life was similar among women with epilepsy and women from the general population, whereas significantly fewer men with epilepsy than men in the general population reported that sex was an important part of their daily lives. Women with mostly refractory epilepsy reported asking for help with their sexual problems significantly more often than women in the other groups.

Significance

Some sexual problems occur significantly more often in patients with epilepsy than in the general population and feelings of sexual deviancy occur more frequently. No epilepsy‐related factors could be identified as specific predictors.

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