How might bipolar II disorder impact on sex life and contraception?

Sexual health is very important though not really spoken about, for example risky behaviours and hypomania. Over time I’ve gotten more of an awareness of this, which really helps.

- Amanda, 24 years old, diagnosed 6 months ago.

The symptoms of bipolar II disorder (BPII) may impact on your sexual life and how likely it is that you will use contraception (e.g., the pill, condoms) to avoid unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

For example, symptoms related to depression (e.g., low mood, low energy and low motivation) and symptoms related to hypomania (e.g., elevated mood, increased impulsivity and risk-taking) can change:

  • your desire to have sex or libido
  • how much enjoyment or pleasure you get from sex
  • how carefree you feel about having sex
  • how likely you are to take sexual risks (e.g., having sex with someone you do not know very well, or having unprotected sex)*

* Some people find that it can be helpful to tell a close friend to keep an eye out for you if you think that your BPII symptoms will lead you to take sexual risks that you might later regret.

Some symptoms of BPII and some medication side-effects can also make it hard to remember to take contraceptive medications (e.g., the pill) or use contraceptive devices (e.g., patch, vaginal ring). If you are find it hard to remember to use contraception as prescribed talk to your clinician about this. They can recommend other methods that you may find easier (e.g., switching from the pill to longer-acting contraceptive methods).