Sex. On TV, in ads, in the locker room, talking with your friends – sex is one of the hottest topics around, and there’s no avoiding it. Sooner or later pretty much every teenager deals with some degree of physical intimacy, whether it’s holding hands, making out, or going around all the bases and sliding into home. How far you want to go is always and entirely up to you – there’s no universal rule saying where and when to start getting physically close. Of course, anything and everything, from parents to friends to religion to True Love, can have an impact on your choices.
You might not even realize how much what you hear and see will affect what you do, but the influence is stronger than you’d think. You probably talk about sex with your friends a lot – definitely more than you do with your parents or your teachers – so they’re most likely going to be your best source of information on what’s happening with everyone around you. Of course, everything they say isn’t necessarily the complete gospel truth. A lot of times, guys will say they’ve done more than they have, trying to impress their friends or make themselves sound like a player. If you believe everything they say, you might find your views on sex are a little unrealistic. Therefore, although you might feel awkward talking about sex with an adult, it’s probably a good idea to find one that you trust in order to get a better idea of what’s really going on. An older brother or sister is often a good person to ask, or any other family member you feel comfortable with – or even a nurse or a doctor. Finding someone who’s at ease talking about sex will make you feel more comfortable, too, as well as giving you more information.
People with epilepsy can relax, a little – kissing or sex won’t automatically bring on a seizure. However, it doesn’t protect you from a seizure, either, so if your seizures are uncontrolled there’s always the possibility that one will occur at the worst possible time. Just in case, you should make sure that your partner knows about your epilepsy and what to do if you have a seizure when you’re together. However, you shouldn’t let worries about inconvenient seizures stop you from being intimate if you want to be – the chances of a seizure interrupting right when you don’t want it to are relatively small, and, as always, epilepsy should in no way stop you from leading a normal life.
On the flip side of the coin, sometimes having epilepsy will make you have less interest in sex than other people your age. High doses of seizure meds sometimes affect the amount you’re interested in sex, or, more rarely, the epilepsy itself will decrease your interest. Generally, this isn’t something you’ll notice by yourself, but someone who’s close to you, like a parent – or even a boyfriend or girlfriend – might realize that something’s a little different. Because interest in sex varies pretty widely across the board, this may not even be much of a problem. However, if it bothers you or is causing problems in your relationship, there’s always the option to talk about it with a doctor. A change of medication, or a decreased dosage, and your interest in sex could shoot right back up.
Topic Editor:Gregory L. Holmes, M.D.
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Many kids with epilepsy worry that their partner will want to break up with them because of their epilepsy; but if you have a positive attitude when you explain it to the other person, they may be less likely to be frightened off.