Sexual Dysfunction in Women with Epilepsy and their Causes

Authors: V. Zelená;  R. Kuba
Authors‘ workplace: I. neurologická klinika LF MU a FN u sv. Anny v Brně
Published in: Cesk Slov Neurol N 2008; 71/104(3): 271-276
Category: Review Article


Sexual dysfunction is a relatively common comorbidity in women with epilepsy which may significantly influence the quality of patients’ life. In the literature its prevalence varies from 15 to 85%, which probably reflects methodical problems linked to its assessment. Sexual dysfunction used to be considered merely a decrease in libido or arousal. Currently several subtypes of women’s sexual dysfunction are distinguished. The cause of sexual dysfunction in women with epilepsy is probably multifactorial. The factors likely responsible are epilepsy itself, psychosocial factors and antiepileptic medication. Epileptic discharges may affect function of limbic structures responsible for normal sexual responsiveness. Improvement of sexual function occurs with better compensation of epilepsy attained either by epilepsy surgery or by medication while complete remission of seizures is the key issue. Both epilepsy and liver enzyme inducing antiepileptic drugs may induce endocrine changes that may be partly in cause loss of libido and arousal. This applies in case of lower androgen and oestrogen blood levels and high prolactin levels. Limbic functions may obviously be altered by the direct effect of antiepileptic medication. More research is needed to clarify this and also the relation of psychosocial factors to sexual dysfunction. So far a positive correlation between depression and dyspareunia was suggested in the case of women with epilepsy.

Key words:
sexual dysfunction – epilepsy – women – antiepileptics


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