On a showery Monday morning, a couple rushed to Sion Hospital for an unusual problem. Sameer Goyal, (name changed) a 35-year-old Sion resident and his wife Payal (name changed), seem worried as they wait for their turn outside the out-patient department (OPD) 21 at the hospital.
Dr Sagar Karia, secretary of Bombay Psychiatric Association as well as consulting psychiatrist at Sion Hospital, said “Sameer had a very peculiar problem. He suffered from post-coital (sexual intercourse) seizures, which is a tendency to get seizures immediately after a sexual intercourse. He has been married for eight years now and has started getting seizures since the past 8 months.”
Dr Karia further said, “He is now undergoing treatment under me wherein he consumes a tablet few hours before an intercourse. This is the first time; I have seen such a patient. Post-coital headaches are quite common, but seizures are rare. Moreover, orgasm induced seizure in women is more common than in men.”
Post coital seizures are generally known as reflex seizures that are caused by stimuli. The seizures that are caused by sexual intercourse are very uncommon. “Though I have not seen any such patient personally, I do know that reflex seizures are a rare occurrence. In these cases, coitus acts as a trigger for epilepsy,” said Dr Pankaj Agarwal, neurologist and movement disorders specialist, Global Hospitals, Mumbai.
A variety of stimuli can cause reflex seizures. Some commonly found triggers include light, music and cognitive phenomenon. There are case reports however where the phenomenon of sexual activity has been a trigger for epileptic seizures, says a study done by NCBI, a research body in the United States.
Post coital seizure is a relatively rare phenomenon, say experts. “Post coital seizure is a reality. There are various triggers for epilepsy one of the rarest is coitus. In such case, there needs to be a tailor-made precaution as well as treatment. Not having sex is definitely not an answer,” said Dr Anjali Chhabria, Psychiatrist and Founder of Mind Temple.
She added, “I have met a young girl with a similar problem. What really happens is post the episode, there can be cases of fear for sex or embarrassment. All of this, however, can be controlled, if taken help at the right time.”
What do studies say about Post coital seizures? (Source: NCBI)
Reflex seizures are well known entities developing in response to a discrete or specific stimulus. Reflex seizures are the ones that “Objectively and consistently are demonstrated to be evoked by a specific afferent stimulus or by the activity of the patient.
Sexual orgasm is not recognized as a stimulus for reflex epilepsy according to the International League against Epilepsy. Seizures evoked by sexual orgasms were the first reported in 1960 followed by few more case reports and a six case series.