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.