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23 May 2016

Study finds that some hormonal contraceptives impact seizure frequency in women with epilepsy

A study published in Epilepsy & Behavior has found that hormonal contraception has differing impacts on seizure frequency in women taking different AEDs.


Researchers studied 2712 experiences of contraceptive use reported by 1144 women with epilepsy.  They compared reports of increase and decrease in seizure frequency on hormonal versus non-hormonal contraception, and divided the results according to the women’s antiepileptic drug categories.

Most women reported no change in seizure frequency

They found that the majority of women reported no change in seizure frequency on any form of contraception, but that more reported a change in seizures using hormonal contraception than on non-hormonal contraception.

On hormonal contraception, more women with epilepsy (18.7 per cent) reported a seizure increase than a decrease (9.5 per cent).

Sodium valproate linked with seizure increase

Of all AEDs, sodium valproate was linked with the highest rate of reports of seizure increase in women using hormonal contraceptives.

The study, which is a report of the Epilepsy Birth Control Registry, concludes: “The findings provide community-based, epidemiological survey evidence that contraceptive methods may differ in their impact on seizures and that this impact may vary by antiepileptic drug category.”


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