What do Theodore Roosevelt, Danny Glover and Prince have in common? All three of these famous, successful men have (or had) epilepsy. With International Men's Day being celebrated on 19th November, let's take the opportunity to talk about epilepsy in men.
Very often, men don't talk about their issues or things that are bothering them - often choosing to figure stuff out on our own. All the same, it is important to talk about the experiences of seizures in men because it can make us feel less alone - and find solutions.
Looking to learn about issues affecting women with epilepsy? Read our blog.
Men and epilepsy - let's talk about the issues
Epilepsy can bring up certain issues for men. Sometimes it's good to have a frank and open discussion about these topics. So, let's dive right in.
When was the last time you spoke with someone about how you really feel?
Research shows that men with epilepsy experience higher rates of anxiety and depression than those who do not have the condition. Of course, not everyone with epilepsy feels this way all the time. But it is important to talk about how you feel and seek out help if the negative feelings last for longer than a couple of weeks.
Your doctor can provide you with resources for coping with negative feelings and they may also be able to provide medication to treat depression or anxiety.
More on emotions: 7 tips to relieve stress
Lifestyle and culture
In our culture, men are often expected to behave in certain ways. Unfortunately epilepsy in men means that some activities may not be safe, or your ability to take part is restricted. This might include:
- Drinking lots of alcohol
- Taking recreational drugs
- Taking part in certain sports
- Certain jobs
The good news is that there are still many ways that you can participate without increasing your risk of seizures. There are many sports which are popular for men with epilepsy (check out our article on exercising with epilepsy). You can also still participate in social activities including drinking alcohol as long as you take some precautions (read about alcohol and epilepsy). And there are many things you can do to improve your chances of being allowed to drive or finding work.
Sex and relationships
Studies have found that men with epilepsy may have a lower sex drive than others. This could be for a number of reasons:
- Certain epilepsy drugs can reduce libido
- Temporal lobe epilepsy may interrupt sexual function
- Seizures can also affect your sex drive
- Depression and low self esteem are also a cause of sex problems
Erectile dysfunction can be very frustrating. It is worth remembering that all men will sometimes experience this and you are not alone. There is also plenty of help out there including medication and therapies which can help.
Try talking to your doctor about what help is available if you have experienced sexual problems.
Fatherhood and epilepsy in men
Starting a family is a very exciting and nerve wracking experience. Generally speaking there is no reason why men with epilepsy cannot start a family.
It is important to acknowledge that there is a slightly higher risk that a man with epilepsy will have children who also have the condition. So, you and your partner should discuss this with your doctor so you can both prepare.
Men and epilepsy: your journey
Everybody experiences epilepsy in different ways. That said, for men with epilepsy there are certain common experiences, and it can be really useful to speak about these openly from time to time.
If you are looking for help with epilepsy in men you might find it useful to join a support group where you can ask questions and meet others who have had similar experiences to you.