Periods and the menstrual cycle

This page looks at the effect that epilepsy can have on your periods.

It also describes a type of epilepsy where there is an increased risk of seizures at certain times in your menstrual cycle.

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Will epilepsy affect my periods?

Your menstrual cycle starts on the first day of your period and ends on the day before your next period. Most women have a menstrual cycle of between 24 and 35 days and ovulate (release an egg) around 10-16 days before their next period.

Your menstrual cycle can be affected by many things including your age, your epilepsy, the number of seizures you have, or your epilepsy medicine. Some women with epilepsy find that their periods don’t follow a pattern, or happen very rarely.

If your periods don’t follow a pattern, happen rarely, or are very heavy, it’s a good idea to talk to your GP. If they feel your epilepsy medicine could be affecting your menstrual cycle, they might refer you to an epilepsy specialist, or gynaecologist.


Will my menstrual cycle affect my epilepsy?

Some women with epilepsy find their menstrual cycle has an effect on their seizures.


Catamenial epilepsy

You might have more seizures than usual at certain times in your menstrual cycle. This could be at the start of your period, around the middle of your cycle (when you ovulate) or in the week before your period. When changes in the hormones that control your menstrual cycle cause you to have more seizures, it’s called catamenial epilepsy. Some professionals might call it cyclical epilepsy.

If you think you may have catamenial epilepsy, try keeping a seizure diary for 3 months, to see if there is a clear pattern. If there is, your doctor can look at possible treatments with you, such as a prescription for the drug clobazam (Frisium). Clobazam is taken as well as your usual epilepsy medicine, but just on the days when you are at risk of having seizures.


Premenstrual tension

Premenstrual tension (PMT) affects many women. It can make you feel bloated, stressed and anxious in the days leading up to your period. If PMT makes you feel stressed or anxious, you might notice that you have more seizures at this time.

Download our epilepsy information

Women with epilepsy

Take steps to help your wellbeing

Epilepsy and your wellbeing

Taking steps to improve your wellbeing will help you to manage the impact of epilepsy in your life.

This course will help you understand the relationship between epilepsy and wellbeing, and provide you with simple, practical advice to help you feel and function at your best.

Take this course
Published: July 2020
Last modified: May 2023
To be reviewed: July 2023
Tracking: B017.08
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