Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Birth control

One of the most common concerns when choosing a seizure medication is, or should be, - what is the impact on other medications I may take? Women with epilepsy should expand this question – what impact will my seizure medication may have on birth control and how safe and effective are different forms of birth control?

  • Unfortunately, some seizure medications affect the breakdown of hormonal birth control methods, making them less effective. The result – unintended pregnancy!
  • Unplanned pregnancies can increase the risk of problems for mother and baby. We know that some seizure medications taken by a woman during pregnancy have greater risks of causing birth defects or affecting the development of the baby in other ways. Lessening these risks depends on women making informed choices before becoming pregnant. This can’t be done after a woman has found out that she is pregnant.
  • Some hormonal birth control options may affect the level of seizure medication in a woman’s body. The result – breakthrough seizures or change in medication side effects!
  • The safety and effectiveness of different birth control options from the women’s perspective has not been well studied. Yet anecdotal reports of changes in seizures or other concerns are heard from women with epilepsy using some forms of birth control. This results - women and men with epilepsy don’t have the full facts about what is safe, effective and available to them.

To help address this gap in knowledge, a collaborative project involving researchers at Harvard Medical School in Boston Massachusetts and Columbia University Medical School in New York have developed the Epilepsy Birth Control Registry (EBCR). The project received initial funding from the Epilepsy Foundation. This project aims to understand, from the perspective of women with epilepsy, the safety and effectiveness of various forms of birth control, the decision-making process involved in selecting birth control, and the availability of the best birth control for women with epilepsy.

To take part in this project:

  • Visit Epilepsy Birth Control Registry to participate in a research survey on birth control.
  • Learn about different birth control options currently available for people with epilepsy.

For questions about the EBCR project:

Best wishes and stay informed! 

Authored by: Patricia O. Shafer RN MN on 1/2014