Epilepsy Talk

Epilepsy Differences Between Men and Women? | December 6, 2017

Men and women have long suspected that our brains are wired a bit differently. Now science is starting to back up this notion.

A new study finds that men have more synapses connecting the cells in a particular part of the brain than women do.

In short, each sex excels at different types of cognitive functions.

Neuroscientists have been examining brains to look for structural differences between the sexes that could explain these differences in abilities.

Several studies in recent years have shown that men and women have different ratios of white and gray matter in their brains and different densities of nerve cells.

When looking even more deeply into the brain’s make-up, researchers found differences in the density of synapses, the junctions between neurons that allow the cells to communicate with each other.

The researchers examined fresh brain tissue removed from patients with epilepsy during brain surgery with an electron microscope.

They found that in the temporal neocortex, which is involved in social and emotional processes, men had a higher density of synapses than women.

Yet the triggers for their stressors are significantly different.

For example, researchers reported they found men were affected  primarily by work and financially related stressors.

Conversely, women identified stressors associated with troubled family relationships, coping with multiple responsibilities and health related events of family, friends and loved ones.

Although, in many ways, epilepsy is a different disease for women than men.

Most obvious are the biological differences between women and men, but also the different social roles they play.

As a result of these differences, women with epilepsy face different challenges – especially hormonally.

Between puberty, menstrual cycles and menopause, each phase of a woman’s life can have different complications for epilepsy.

In fact, the nature of their seizures may change – especially in the area of reproductive health.

According to the Epilepsy Foundation, hormonal changes in men are less obvious than in women because they do not have a monthly menstrual cycle.

“However, in men, hormones (testosterone and related hormones) also influence brain function and may have an impact on seizures,” says the foundation’s website.

Both men and women tend to have problems with reproduction.

If they’re suffering from uncontrolled seizures of temporal lobe origin, they tend to have less interest in sex, getting physically aroused and to have less fertility.

In women, the specific fertility problem is irregular and often related to their ovulation and with men it’s a poor sperm count.

Epilepsy and use of AEDs may affect reproductive abilities and endocrine disorders.

So, both male and female epilepsy patients may be more susceptible to a reduced birth rate than the rest of the population.

And thanks to negative psychological and social implications, the frequency of marriage is decreased.

On the other hand, there are epilepsy and AEDs that can alter sex hormone levels to promote development of reproductive endocrine disorders in both women and men.

Together with sex steroids and their metabolites which may also provide positive treatment for seizures.

Yet, despite that, the birth rate is lower among married epilepsy patients.

There’s still fear and lowered self-confidence, along with social mores and stigmas.

Part of it is due to a common lack of knowledge.

And then there’s the fear that the parents will have a child with severe physical problems, if not epilepsy itself.

However, more than 90 percent of pregnant women who have epilepsy deliver healthy babies, according to the Epilepsy Foundation.

And the great majority of parents (both men and women) with epilepsy do not have children with epilepsy.

So there IS hope…for both women…and men!

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Articles of interest:

New Agent for Female Sexual Dysfunction Has Promise  http://www.medpagetoday.com/MeetingCoverage/ACOG/45496?xid=nl_mpt_DHE_2014-05-01&utm_content=&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=DailyHeadlines&utm_source=WC&eun=g678262d0r&userid=678262&email=pfjohnson@comcast.net&mu_id=5845719

Testosterone Tx Needs Clinical Trials   http://www.medpagetoday.com/Endocrinology/GeneralEndocrinology/45500?xid=nl_mpt_DHE_2014-05-01&utm_content=&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=DailyHeadlines&utm_source=WC&eun=g678262d0r&userid=678262&email=pfjohnson@comcast.net&mu_id=5845719









  1. I made a conscious decision years ago that motherhood was not for me. On days after a seizure, I can do what I need to to “keep it together” for myself but just barely. I wouldn’t want to also be having to the physical and emotional needs of a child. It wouldn’t be fair, IMO, to the child.


    Comment by paleobird — December 6, 2017 @ 8:42 PM

  2. Paleobird, i don’t know you, but i have read your comments on this site and other sites and liked the one about your dog, but i think you are absolutely wrong. If you had a child, you would make a fine mother. Your failings are all in your mind and wouldn’t reflex on reality, especially once the motherly hormones after/during birth kick in. Now, if you were alone without a husband, then yes, it might be a bit over burdening. Problem today, most marriages end in divorce, and who gets stuck with the kids. (My opinion so i could be totallty wrong. 😛 )



    Comment by Zolt — December 7, 2017 @ 3:14 AM

    • The other side of the coin is the crushing responsibility of having a child. Call me a wimp, but there’s only so much I can handle. And I’d never, ever want to sell the child short. Or put my needs before all else.

      On the other hand, if I had become pregnant with Arthur’s child, during my child-bearing years, I could absolutely not consider aborting it. (Even though I am pro abortion.)

      I love him too much and I expect, he could pick up where I fell short. (TMI?)


      Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — December 7, 2017 @ 8:17 AM

  3. Reblogged this on catsissie.


    Comment by catsissie — December 7, 2017 @ 3:53 AM

  4. I was diagnosed at 15 and my seizures were uncontrollably when it was time of the month due to hormone levels. I was advised not to have kids however I had 2 unplanned pregnancies And throughout them I was absolutely fine think I had 1 seizure. The doctors and midwives kept a close eye on me I had a scan every 4 weeks to check babies were grown normal and I have 2 healthy boys age 8 & 6 now. And iam a single parent it’s hard but both my sons know how to deal with a seizure and they both understand that sometimes mum needs to rest abit more than normal on a bad day so it’s a movie day and they appreciate cuddles and a duvet day.


    Comment by Charlene — December 8, 2017 @ 3:01 PM

  5. How do I deal with my 14 year old son who is epileptic from pulling at his private part at any time of the day. Plus he has intellectuall disability that keeps him from understanding it’s wrong to do. It’s frustrating cause he thinks it’s funny. My wife and I don’t know what to do. He’s on trileptal one fycompa. Any help out there is greatly appreciated. Thanks


    Comment by Tom Langella — December 9, 2017 @ 11:29 PM

    • I don’t think your son pulling his penis out is something that can be dealt with by drugs.

      But I do think behavioral therapy, would be in order.


      Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — December 10, 2017 @ 9:25 AM

  6. I was told that, with my type of epilepsy, and especially with the status epilepticus, that I could never have children. As you have said. it can wreck your self esteem when developing relationships. And if I ever did have a child, all I could think of was having a child and having a seizure and losing consciousness while pushing a baby carriage, crossing the street, etc. And divorce. What if I were alone? So many factors. You are right. At least there is hope for younger men and women than I. Bet there is still the stigma.


    Comment by megambon2164 — January 20, 2019 @ 12:35 PM

  7. Thanks, Phylis. I know it is not inherited. Still hoping for “the one.” I think he may “get it.” Too late for me to have kids, but not too late for me to find a great guy! And I am a good role model for my friends’ kids. That is enough.


    Comment by megambon2164 — January 20, 2019 @ 12:52 PM

    • Hoping you find “the one”, children or not.

      And I KNOW you’re a great role model…for everyone!


      Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — January 20, 2019 @ 1:22 PM

      • Thanks, Phylis! You are a great role model and mentor!

        Liked by 1 person

        Comment by megambon2164 — January 20, 2019 @ 1:27 PM

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    About the author

    Phylis Feiner Johnson

    Phylis Feiner Johnson

    I've been a professional copywriter for over 35 years. I also had epilepsy for decades. My mission is advocacy; to increase education, awareness and funding for epilepsy research. Together, we can make a huge difference. If not changing the world, at least helping each other, with wisdom, compassion and sharing.

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