Sexual response in female rats with status epilepticus

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Female sexual function is complex and may be disrupted by disease, in particular epilepsy. Chronic seizures in women can have adverse effects on reproductive function, but it has been difficult to dissociate the effects of epilepsy from those related to anticonvulsant medications. The purpose of this study was to evaluate sexual behavior in female rats submitted to pilocarpine-induced status epilepticus (SE).


Adult female Wistar rats were given saline or pilocarpine (350 mg/kg, i.p.) to induce SE. The groups were distributed according to the treatment or response to pilocarpine: CTRL (control rats maintained in the home-cage after saline administration); NSE (non–status epilepticus, rats that did not display convulsive and intermittent seizures after pilocarpine injection) and SE (status epilepticus,rats that displayed convulsive and intermittent seizures after pilocarpine injection). After 50 days, sexual receptivity in the female rats was artificially induced via administration of a combination of estradiol and progesterone. Sexual behavior was evaluated during three sessions in the presence of a sexually experienced male rat. Receptivity and proceptivity behaviors, as well as hormones concentrations, were monitored.

Key Findings

Significant decreases in proceptivity and receptivity behaviors during the three tests were observed in SE female rats. The rejection response was significantly increased in SE rats compared with CTRL or NSE groups. Progesterone, testosterone, and corticosterone were unchanged between the groups.


The SE female rats showed lower sexual motivation and performance regardless of their steroid hormones levels.

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