Researchers have found that orgasms can trigger seizures in some cases. In these cases, the seizure can happen from a few seconds to 2 hours after orgasm.
This article explores the concept of orgasm-induced seizures and looks at a few case studies. It also looks at symptoms of and treatments for orgasm-induced epileptic seizures.
A note about sex and gender
Sex and gender exist on spectrums. This article will use the terms “male,” “female,” or both to refer to sex assigned at birth. Click here to learn more.
A seizure is when sudden physical changes happen in the body following abnormal electrical activity in the brain.
Any person can experience a seizure at any time.
When people think of seizures, they may imagine body convulsions and shaking that a person cannot control. However, not all seizures cause these symptoms.
They each consist of different types of seizures that manifest differently.
Generalized onset seizures
Generalized onset seizures affect both the right and left sides of the brain. The seizures usually last a few minutes. Types of generalized seizures include:
- Tonic-clonic seizures: A person experiencing this type of seizure may cry out and lose consciousness. They may also fall to the ground and experience muscle spasms or jerks. A person can feel fatigued after this type of seizure.
- Absence seizures: A person can experience rapid blinking or may stare into space.
- Atonic seizures: This is where muscles become limp and a person falls to the ground.
Focal onset seizures
Focal onset seizures, also called partial seizures, occur in one part of the brain. The different types of focal seizures include:
- Simple focal seizures: These seizures may result in a person twitching or experiencing sensation changes, including strange smells and tastes.
- Complex focal seizures: A person can feel dazed or confused. They may not be able to answer questions or follow a direction for a few minutes following the seizure.
- Secondary generalized seizure: A person may experience a focal seizure followed by a generalized seizure.
A person with epilepsy can have more than one type of seizure.
Learn more about seizures and epilepsy.
There are very few studies that find a connection between orgasms or sexual intercourse and seizures. Researchers
Some seizures occur because of stimuli. The term for these types of seizures is “reflex seizures.”
Sensory stimuli such as light, sound, or movement can cause reflex seizures. Photosensitive epilepsy — where flashing lights can induce seizures — is the most common example of this.
However, some researchers have examined individual case studies where orgasms or sexual intercourse have appeared to cause reflex seizures.
For example, a
Following the first seizure, the person initially found that the seizures only occurred after sex. After 3 years, the seizures began happening more regularly during day-to-day activities. There was no obvious cause of the seizures.
A 2021 literature review also explained a case study where a 42-year-old male had a generalized tonic-clonic seizure following ejaculation. This happened one year after his first seizure.
To get an idea of the frequency of this phenomenon, the researchers searched medical databases to find similar case studies. They found 14 additional cases of orgasm-induced epilepsy.
The 2021 review found that the time between the orgasm and the seizure ranged from a few seconds to 2 hours.
Out of the 15 case studies, 8 people had focal seizures, sometimes with impaired awareness. Two people had secondary generalized seizures, and 5 had tonic-clonic seizures.
This means that focal seizures were the most common type of orgasm-induced seizure.
During a simple focal seizure, a person may be conscious and aware of what is happening. Symptoms include:
- a general strange feeling
- unusual smells or tastes
- déjà vu, or the feeling that this has happened before
- tingling in the arms and legs
- twitching or stiffness in part of the body, such as the hand
The other common type of seizure in the study was a complex focal seizure. The person may not be aware of what is happening and may not remember what happened during the seizure.
Symptoms of a complex focal seizure include random bodily movements that the person is unaware of, such as:
- random arm movements
- making random noises
- fiddling with objects
Seizures do not always require immediate medical attention. However, according to the
- the person has never had a seizure before
- the seizure lasts longer than 5 minutes
- the person has another seizure soon after the first one
- the person has difficulty breathing or waking after the seizure
- an injury occurs during the seizure
- the seizure happens in water
- the person has a health condition such as diabetes or heart disease
- the person is pregnant
If none of these apply, it is possible to help a person having a seizure without medical attention. To do this, a person should:
- stay with the person until the seizure subsides and they are fully conscious
- if the person is standing, lower them gently to the ground
- place a pillow or jacket under their head to prevent injury
- check to see if the person is wearing a medical bracelet
- keep themselves and others near the person calm
- after the seizure has ended, bring the person to a safe place and calmly explain what has happened in simple terms
In people living with epilepsy, the following factors may increase their risk of having seizures:
The 2021 review explained that doctors treated 5 people who experienced orgasm-induced seizures with levetiracetam, valproic acid, and lamotrigine. Three people needed combination therapy with antiseizure drugs, and four required surgery.
There is currently no cure for epilepsy; however, many people can control their seizures through medication. A person may build up the dosage slowly.
Other types of treatment for epilepsy include:
- Neuromodulation: This involves implanting a device that controls electrical signals in the brain.
- Alternative therapies: These include mind and body practices, such as yoga and meditation, and herbal supplements. Some people may use both alternative therapies and conventional medicine to manage their condition.
- Dietary therapy: Following the keto diet alongside regular therapy may help a person control their epilepsy.
- Surgery: Some people may opt for surgery if no other treatments are effective. A person should discuss their options with a healthcare professional.
Learn more about treatments for epilepsy.
This section answers some of the most commonly asked questions about orgasms and seizures.
Can you have an orgasm during a seizure?
According to a 2016 article, it is possible to have an “orgasmic seizure” that causes a feeling similar to sexual arousal. It also reports that, in some cases, orgasms identical to those that occur during sex can happen during a seizure.
The article states that this is a rare occurrence and is more likely to affect females.
Is an orgasm a kind of seizure?
According to a
Orgasm-induced seizures are rare, and people with or without epilepsy generally do not have to worry about sex being a trigger for seizures.
If a person does experience sex- or orgasm-induced seizures, it may adversely affect their sex life.
However, studies have shown that healthcare professionals can help people control orgasm-induced seizures with medication, surgery, and other treatment methods.
A person with epilepsy can have an active sex life by maintaining good communication and having an understanding partner. They can also reduce their risk of having a seizure during sex by taking any medication regularly, getting enough sleep, and avoiding alcohol and drugs.
A person with epilepsy should regularly visit a healthcare professional and follow their advice to help manage their condition.
Orgasm-induced seizures are a rare occurrence; however, they can happen. It is also possible for a seizure to feel like a sexual experience.
It is important for sexual partners to communicate, both to understand that an orgasm-induced seizure is a rare possibility and to know what to do should this event happen.
Living well with epilepsy and managing the condition can take some work. However, with an understanding and empathetic partner, a person with epilepsy can enjoy a fulfilling sex life.