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of everyone affected by epilepsy


Sodium valproate and contraception

Valproate medicines (brand names: Epilim, Epilim Chrono, Epilim Chronosphere, Episenta, Epival, Depakote, Convulex, Kentlim, Syonell and Valpal) can seriously harm an unborn baby. See our page about sodium valproate medicines and risks in pregnancy.

If you are taking a valproate medicine and are of childbearing age, you are advised to always use effective contraception during your treatment. You should be seen by an epilepsy specialist at least yearly to go through a risk acknowledgement form. If you are thinking about becoming pregnant, or you become pregnant, talk to your GP or specialist straight away.

If you do get pregnant unexpectedly, don’t stop taking your epilepsy medicine. Instead, talk to your doctor as soon as possible, so that they can get you the help and advice you need.

If you are taking a valproate medicine, you are advised to use one of the following long acting reversible contraception (LARC) to prevent pregnancy:

  • Copper intrauterine device (IUD) coil
  • Female sterilisation
  • Hormone releasing intrauterine system (IUS) (Mirena)
  • Progestogen only implant (Nexplanon)

This type of contraception is the most effective available. For every 100 women using this method only one would have an unplanned pregnancy.

Unplanned contraception

Unplanned (emergency) contraception can be used after unprotected sex or when a planned method of contraception has failed. The following methods may work for you:

  • Copper intrauterine device (IUD) coil
  • Morning-after pill: Levonorgestrel (Levonelle) or Ulipristal acetate (EllaOne)

How can I find out more about contraception?

Talk to your family doctor, epilepsy specialist nurse or your local family planning clinic. They can help you choose a form of contraception that will work for you and suit your lifestyle.

It’s important to be happy with your choice, and to know how to use it properly, if you don’t want to become pregnant.

Further information is available from:

NHS website
Website: nhs.uk

Family Planning Association
Website: fpa.org.uk

Event Date: 
Friday 23 October 2015 - 12:42

Epilepsy Action would like to thank Beth Irwin, epilepsy nurse/midwife, The Royal Hospital, Belfast, for her help in planning this information and Kim Morley, epilepsy specialist midwife for her contribution to this information.

Beth Irwin and Kim Morley have no conflict of interest to declare.

This information has been produced under the terms of Epilepsy Action's information quality standards.

  • Updated May 2019
    To be reviewed May 2022

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