Sexual behavior in patients with bipolar illness

BACKGROUND: There is a dearth of information regarding sexual behavior in patients with bipolar illness.

METHODS: A questionnaire regarding sexual and reproductive behavior was administered to all willing attendees of an academic bipolar clinic. Information regarding onset, maintenance, and nature of sexual behav­iors, as well as marriage and children, was collected.

RESULTS: Patients with bipolar disorder have less children on average (1.6) than the U.S. general population (1.87). Patients were 3 times more likely to have planned children before diagnosis than after; however, the aver­age number of unplanned children remained the same before and after diagnosis. In the U.S., 55.7% of those age 18 and older are married, com­pared with 32.8% among bipolar patients. The majority of patients, 52.9%, believed that stigma towards bipolar illness had affected relationships, and 32.4% believed that stigma affected finding sexual partners, but mea­surement of subjective stigma did not correlate with reproductive success.

CONCLUSIONS: Individuals with bipolar illness have a wide range of sexual experiences. However, reproductive success of people diagnosed with bipolar illness is limited.

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