These pages are about women and epilepsy in the UK. If you are looking for information about women and epilepsy in another country, please contact your local epilepsy organisation
Every woman goes through the menopause. It’s sometimes called ‘the change of life’. Around the time of the menopause, your periods happen less often and eventually stop altogether. Your body stops releasing eggs, which means that you can’t get pregnant naturally. Among other symptoms, you might have hot flushes and night sweats. You might also have trouble sleeping. This can cause you to have poor concentration and feel irritable.
When the menopause happens
In the UK, most women reach the menopause around the age of 52. However, it can happen earlier, or later, than this. If you have epilepsy, there’s a possibility that you may start the menopause earlier than other women. This is more likely if you have frequent seizures.
More information about the menopause is available from NHS Choices.
The menopause and seizures
Many women with epilepsy notice a change in their seizure pattern during or after the menopause. Some women have more seizures and some women have fewer seizures.
Catamenial epilepsy is when your seizures follow a pattern that is connected to your periods. If you have catamenial epilepsy some research suggests that you might have more seizures than usual in the time leading up to the menopause. After the menopause, you might find that your seizures happen less often.
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is a treatment that involves taking certain hormone supplements. The aim of HRT is to lessen or stop symptoms of the menopause, such as hot flushes and night sweats. Many women don’t have severe menopause symptoms, so don’t take HRT. But it can be helpful for women who find that the menopause is affecting their quality of life.
There is no clear evidence that women with epilepsy have different needs to other women.
These are some of the recommendations about using HRT from the British Menopause Society and Women's Health Concern.
- The decision about whether to use HRT should be made by each woman, who should have been given enough information by her healthcare professional to make an informed choice.
- Women using HRT should be reviewed each year.
These recommendations are available on the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists website: rcog.org.uk.
So, if you are considering whether HRT may be helpful, talk to your doctor.
For more information about HRT and the menopause, see the British Menopause Society's website: thebms.org.uk.
If you would like to see this information with references, visit the Advice and Information references section of our website. See Women with epilepsy.
Epilepsy Action wishes to thank Penny Burt, Nurse Specialist (Epilepsy), Royal Victoria Infirmary,Newcastlefor her contribution to this information. Penny has declared no conflict of interest.
This information has been produced under the terms of The Information Standard.
Updated August 2013To be reviewed August 2015