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MARRIAGE AND EPILEPSY

Even now there are parts of the world where misconceptions about epilepsy are still widespread. It is often assumed that epilepsy is entirely an inherited disease, and there may also be fears and taboos surrounding it. In these cultures, especially if arranged marriages are the norm, the marriage prospects of a woman with epilepsy are slim. If she is already married when she develops epilepsy, she may have to be returned to her family.
But these are special cases. In the West a woman with epilepsy has no need to worry about her chances of marriage. They are now exactly the same as those of a woman who does not have epilepsy.
The news is not so good for men. Most studies have shown that men who have epilepsy seem to be less likely to marry than men who do not have the condition, and much less likely to marry than women who have epilepsy. It is difficult to pin-point the reason for this. One explanation is that even now, when sexual roles in society are less rigid than they used to be, men still tend to take the initiative in sexual relationships. It may be that men who are taking anticonvulsant drugs may be less likely to make the first move in a relationship. One of the side-effects of these drugs is a reduction in sexual drive and interest.
And yet even if sex is not such a powerful driving force for these men, it is still surprising that many of them do not marry. Anticonvulsants may reduce the desire for sex; they do not make the need for a loving relationship any less. Indeed, one research study found that men who have epilepsy attach even more importance to having a partner or being married than do women with epilepsy.
If you want to get married, but have not yet managed to make the right kind of relationship, it might be worth your while having counselling to help you gain the sexual confidence to make the first approach. Ask your GP or the local mental health services to refer you for sexual counselling.
You can also take steps to help yourself, the first one being to get involved in some activity which will help you meet more people. An evening class or some voluntary work could be a start, or joining an epilepsy support group if you do not already belong to one. When you do meet someone you like, do not feel you have to rush things, but get to know them and feel comfortable with them as a friend before you become involved in a sexual relationship.
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