Keep Epilepsy under control

  • Epilepsy is a chronic disorder characterized by recurrent seizures (fits, convulsions). 1 in 150 people irrespective of economic status or geography are affected by it. It is often associated with stigma and marginalization as there are a lot of myths about epilepsy.
    It is a brain disorder and not due to possession or psychiatric illness. It is not contagious and people with epilepsy can live near normal lives though they may need medication for 3-5 years, or in some cases for longer periods of time. Epilepsy today is an imminently treatable condition with medicines, lifestyle changes and even surgery.
    Women with epilepsy face special issues at various stages such as menarche (start of menstruation), during periods, sexuality and contraception, during pregnancy and lactation and in later age.
  • As the usual onset of epilepsy is commonly between birth and childhood, young girls with epilepsy may have some issues which need to be addressed.
    When a girl child with epilepsy is on certain medications eg valproate there may be a delay in onset of periods due to a complication known as PCOD (Polycystic Ovarian Disease ). This however, can be detected with tests and treated easily. PCOD, if neglected can lead to delayed menstruation, irregular periods and in severe cases can lead to infertility.
    Due to hormonal influences, in some girls the seizures may get worse just before the start of the monthly cycle or around 15 days after the period (Ovulation). This is known as catamenial epilepsy and may need adjustment of drugs around this time.

When a young woman has epilepsy the psychosocial issues of peer recognition, the changes due to adolescence both physical and emotional can lead to difficulties. Sexuality is often normal and epilepsy may interfere with these girls forming relationships with the opposite sex due to fear and shyness. Contraception is another important thing to discussed with doctor as some contraceptives can interact with antiepileptic medication. Most women can marry and lead a happy marital life, conceive and become pregnant with positive results.

  • Pregnancy in women with epilepsy is often planned in association with the neurologist because some drugs are not advised to be taken during pregnancy. Today, we have several SAFE drugs which can be given. The ideal situation if possible is to complete treatment for 3-5 years and if fit, to withdraw drugs completely prior to pregnancy.
    But this is not possible in some instances and when the woman gets pregnant a monitored pregnancy under the care of obstetrician and neurologist at regular intervals will lead to positive results, for both mother and child. Mothers can breastfeed, but may need some extra help in childcare in order to prevent sleep deprivation which might trigger seizures.

Women after menopause are at risk of osteoporosis due to loss of the female hormone (oestrogen) and this is slightly more in women with epilepsy. Quite often, the severity of the epilepsy is less after menopause in several individuals. Bone health is an important target for treatment and women can live normal lives with a little guidance form their attending doctor.
Overall the outlook for women with epilepsy is good and the can study, work, marry and have children just like anyone else and be live everyone, with everyone in spite of epilepsy.

Epilepsy in Women

International Epilepsy Day - 11. Feb .2019 - Click Here


Epilepsy in Women