Sexual dysfunction related to antiepileptic drugs in patients with epilepsy

Expert Opin Drug Saf. 2016 Jan;15(1):31-42. doi: 10.1517/14740338.2016.1112376. Epub 2015 Nov 11.


Introduction: Epilepsy is a common disease that is mostly treated with antiepileptic drugs (AEDs). However, the sexual dysfunction (SD) side effects related to the use of AEDs have not received sufficient attention.

Areas covered: The purpose of this review is to examine the current evidence on SD-related side effects of AEDs. The incidence, clinical features and major types of SD are summarized. Furthermore, various AEDs that may cause SDs are addressed in detail. Finally, we briefly summarize the treatments for SD related to AEDs.

Expert opinion: SD related to AEDs is common. Symptoms include erectile dysfunction (ED), hyposexuality, hypersexuality and ejaculatory dysfunction. Traditional AEDs such as valproate and enzyme-inducing AEDs (EIAEDs) may produce high incidences of decreased libido. Recently, sexual function changes related to new AEDs have been reported. Topiramate, pregabalin and gabapentin may cause SD, whereas oxcarbazepine, lamotrigine and levetiracetam may improve sexual function. Although the treatment for SD related to AEDs remains unclear, switching to another AED may be an option. Further studies are necessary to better understand and treat SD related to AEDs.

Keywords: AEDs; SD; adverse effect; epilepsy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anticonvulsants / adverse effects*
  • Anticonvulsants / therapeutic use
  • Epilepsy / drug therapy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Sexual Dysfunction, Physiological / chemically induced*
  • Sexual Dysfunction, Physiological / epidemiology
  • Sexual Dysfunction, Physiological / physiopathology
  • Sexual Dysfunctions, Psychological / chemically induced*
  • Sexual Dysfunctions, Psychological / epidemiology
  • Sexual Dysfunctions, Psychological / physiopathology


  • Anticonvulsants