Menstruation as a Seizure Trigger

  • Adjusting the dose of a seizure medication before the time of increased seizures. (Note: This applies only to women with regular cycles.) Changes in seizure medicines should only be made with advice of your health care provider. 
  • Reducing the water retention that occurs in the premenstrual period.
  • Taking an additional seizure medication such as lorazepam (Ativan) for several days around the menstrual cycle.
  • Using hormonal agents such as progesterone or birth control pills for women with catamenial epilepsy may help.  While small studies have shown benefits for some women using progesterone to help control seizures. A randomized controlled study published in 2012 found no significant difference in women taking progesterone during parts of their cycle compared to women taking a placebo or non-active drug. Certain groups of women were found to benefit from progesterone treatment however.
  • All women should track when their menses is due and look at other possible triggers at that time. Women sensitive to hormone changes can make sure they sleep well, don’t miss medicines, avoid other triggers or adjust their lifestyle to lessen the risk of seizures during their menses.

Authored By:

Steven C. Schachter, MD

Reviewed By:

Joseph I. Sirven MD

Resources

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