Online Program

Investigating the sexual and reproductive health needs of teens with epilepsy

Wednesday, November 6, 2013 : 8:30 a.m. - 8:45 a.m.

Amanda Dennis, DrPH, MBE, Ibis Reproductive Health, Cambridge, MA
Ruth Manski, BA, Ibis Reproductive Health, Cambridge, MA
Background: Over one million women and girls in the US have epilepsy. For this population, quality sexual and reproductive (SRH) health care is critical because interactions between epilepsy medications and hormonal contraceptives can lead to an increased risk of unplanned pregnancy and seizure occurrence, and epilepsy medications can have teratogenic impacts.

Methods: To investigate the SRH needs of teens with epilepsy, we conducted an online survey with 113 teens with epilepsy. All survey data was exported into SPSS where basic descriptive statistics and cross tabulations were performed. Results: The majority of respondents were adult teens (82%) who have had sexual intercourse with a male partner (52%) and used birth control (69%). Most reported that having epilepsy did not impact their decision to have sex (61%), their decision to go on birth control (58%), or their type of birth control (51%). Gaps in knowledge about SRH issues for teens with epilepsy were identified. Only a minority of respondents correctly indicated that that some types of birth control can reduce seizures (32%), that most children born to women with epilepsy will not have the disorder (37%), and that most children born to women with epilepsy will not have birth defects (44%).

Conclusion: Findings suggest that having epilepsy is not a central component of teens SRH decisions. This could be because teens consider other factors more relevant to their decisions. However, participants' low levels of knowledge about select SRH issues suggests teens may not have the information needed to make informed SRH decisions.

Learning Areas:

Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
Discuss the role that having epilepsy plays in teens’ sexual, contraceptive, and reproductive decisions List which sexual, contraceptive, and reproductive health issues need to be more fully addressed among teens with epilepsy

Keyword(s): Adolescents, Reproductive Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have been the principal or co-principal investigator of a number of studies focused on access to contraception and I am the principal investigator of the study which I will be presenting on.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.