I’m worried about having seizures during sex.

I have epilepsy and I worry about having a seizure during sex.

brain-951845_640I was diagnosed with epilepsy a few years ago and I used to really worry about this. Then it actually happened and I realized it wasn’t a big deal. It was with a new lover too, which was even higher on my potentially stressful list. BTW, I’m using the term epilepsy here, but this all applies to any seizure disorder.

What I’ve realized is that sex can be a really intimate and vulnerable thing (it isn’t always, but you don’t always know in advance.). If I’m not comfortable with the potential of having a seizure in front of someone, I’m probably not up for the potential of having sex with them either.

There are at least two sides to this. Anonymous pickup sex, such as you would find in Casual Encounters websites and places like adult bookstores or cruising zones, and people you have some kind of relationship or conversation with, no matter how short. What kind of seizures you have is also a factor.

I strongly believe that both with sex and epilepsy we need to make our own risk versus reward decisions that take into account our own health and safety as well as that of other people who might be impacted.

In the case of anonymous sex, safety takes a staring role. You might decide you need to give it up, pick alternative locations (clubs rather than glory holes or parks) or take a friend along as your emergency support. This is actually no different from the kinds of decisions you have to make about any other activity when you have epilepsy, disabilities or health conditions.

Things change a little when we are talking about someone you have more of a relationship with. Just going out for coffee for someone or extended chatting online is an opportunity to tell someone that you have seizures, what your seizures might look like and what you want them to do if you have a seizure. Even talking about preferred activities or otherwise negotiating is an opportunity to do this. And even with a new partner, you may feel like you need to have a friend or roommate around who is comfortable providing any needed seizure first aid. (Any friends don’t have to be in the bedroom, but maybe in the living room watching movies or otherwise hanging out.)

Ideally, you should teach your partner what kind of specific seizure first aid is appropriate for your most common seizures and what you want done.

I usually have simple or complex partial seizures where I am aware but not really in control of half my body (and can’t speak.) I tell my partners that I would prefer that they continue whatever we were doing because it is actually less disconcerting to me and helps me recenter faster. However, I am an exception and for other people, most people, continuing to have sex when they can’t communicate enough
to stop things or express their preferences is extremely scary, a consent violation and rape (if it feels that way to you it is.) Telling your partner you absolutely want to stop is not just reasonable, but should be the expectation. If you do want anything other than stopping, keep in mind that your partner has to consent to that as well. My partners are not always comfortable with continuing and may prefer to get dressed while watching me to holding me (my second preference.) You need to respect their needs as well.

TL;DR You both have to talk about it and you both have to consent. In pick up anonymous sex, there is usually less conversation and more implied consent so you might have to take additional safety precautions.

Again, please remember that I am not a doctor and in particular, I am not your doctor.

An Essay on Consent, From a Woman Who Hosts Huge Sex Parties is a fabulous article that mentions seizures during sex.

Related: What To Do If A Partner Has A Seizure During Sex

Image attribution: Geralt

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