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Epilepsy in Women

How epilepsy and treatment affects women, including hormone levels, pregnancy and the female reproductive cycle.

Epilepsy affects approximately one percent of the population and more than half of individuals with epilepsy are women. It is estimated that in the United States alone, more than one million women of childbearing age experience seizure disorders.

Epilepsy and seizure medications may affect contraception, pregnancy, hormone levels, and the female reproductive cycle. Similarly, hormonal changes can affect seizure control. Our adult epilepsy staff has the expertise to address the complexities of seizure management in women with epilepsy.

Pregnancy in Women with Epilepsy

Pregnancy is an option for those with epilepsy, but special risks exist. Women with epilepsy, particularly when taking anticonvulsant drugs, have a slightly higher risk of having children with birth defects. The increase of birth defects may be decreased by taking folic acid supplements.

Please talk with your doctor before considering a pregnancy. Despite these concerns, you should not stop or reduce your use of anticonvulsant drugs during pregnancy. The risk to you and your baby from seizures is greater than the alternative risk of birth defects related to your medication. Frequent physician talks and visits along with tests of blood anticonvulsant levels throughout your pregnancy are a must.

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