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Hypossexuality in temporal lobe epilepsy

Novais Oliveira Cruz, FN1; Mafalda Andrea, MA1; Joana Crawford, JC1; Susana Loureiro, SL1; Luis Camara Pestana, LCP1

1: Faculdade de Medicina de Lisboa, Portugal

Background and Objective: Between 1973 to 1984, Norman Geschwind described a syndrome of interictal personality in temporal lobe epilepsy consisting of hypossexuality, hyperreligiosity, humorlessness and hypergraphia. Its notification was followed by an extensive search for these traits in broad epileptic populations. Despite statistical studies failed to match this syndrome in general temporal lobe epileptics, the most common sexual dysfunction described in these patients is hyposexuality, defined as an overall reduction in sexual interest and sexual activity. Our study aims to clarify the frequency of reduced sexual interest in patients with temporal lobe epilepsy.

Methods: We performed a retrospective analysis of data concerning 96 patients with medical refractory epilepsy that had been proposed for surgery. From this sample, we selected 90 who and completed Beck Depression Inventory at the psychiatric evaluation before surgery.

Results: Our sample consisted of 50 women (55,6%) and 40 men. 35 patients reported different grades of lack of sexual desire. Most of this sample had concomitant depression (30 patients; 85,7%) and diminished sexual desire was significantly correlated with depression (p=0.001). No significant differences were found between men and women concerning depression but interestingly women reported lack of sexual desire much more frequently than men (p=0.027). No differences were found between temporal and extra-temporal epileptogenic zone concerning lack of sexual desire and depression.

Conclusions: The classical association between epilepsy and hypossexuality may be mediated by the high prevalence of depression in these patients, particularly, in refractory epilepsy. Women may be more prone to lose their interest in sex when depressed.


Work supported by industry: no.

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