When females with epilepsy have a tendency to have more seizures at certain times of the menstrual cycle, it is called catamenial epilepsy and can be related to things such as:

  • Hormonal fluctuations
  • Fluid retention
  • Reduced blood levels of medications before menstruation
  • Sleep disruption
  • Stress and anxiety.

Menstrual changes have been found in up to 20% of females with epilepsy compared to 7% of females without epilepsy. These can include irregular periods to prolonged or shortened periods, problems ovulating, or ovarian cysts – and are believed to occur more often in females with hormone-sensitive seizures.
Polycystic ovaries can be a common primary cause of irregular or absent periods. It is well recognised that sodium valproate (Epilim) is associated with period disturbances.

Recognising these problems early and understanding their involvement with the seizures is important to knowing how best to treat them.

So…to identify if hormones play any role in your seizure patterns try doing things like:

  • Keeping a calendar, in My Epilepsy Diary, of your menstrual cycle, and the days that you have seizures.
  • Include notes about other things that might be important, such as missed medication, late nights, stress, or illness.
  • Share this information with your doctor, and you can work together to help manage your epilepsy more effectively.