Hormones, puberty and menstruation

Changes in hormone levels means that epilepsy treatment may need to change through a woman’s life. In this section, when we refer to women, this also includes girls of childbearing age.

Menopause And Epilepsy

Taking hormone replacement therapy (HRT) may increase the risk of seizures for some women with epilepsy.

What is the menopause?

The menopause is the time in a woman’s life when her periods stop and she can no longer become pregnant.

During the menopause, a woman’s body stops making natural hormones and this can cause symptoms such as hot flushes and mood swings. Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is sometimes used to treat these symptoms. HRT contains either oestrogen or a combination of oestrogen and progestogen.

HRT and seizures

Oestrogen is known to have a pro-convulsant (seizure causing) effect for some women, but the amount of oestrogen in HRT is small and usually not enough to cause seizures to happen. However if you take HRT and you do have more seizures than usual, this could be related to the oestrogen in HRT. If this happens it might be helpful to discuss the HRT with your neurologist to consider possible alternatives or different combination of oestrogen and progestogen.

Having information and regular medical reviews with your neurologist or GP can be important during the menopause. This is an opportunity to discuss any concerns you may have.

Information produced: February 2020

Contraception and epilepsy

Some methods of contraception may be less effective in preventing pregnancy for women taking certain anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs). This is because some AEDs (enzyme-inducing AEDs) affect how well methods of contraception work. Non-enzyme-inducing AEDs are unlikely to affect contraception.

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Information produced: February 2020