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.
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.
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 call catamenial epilepsy or 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 (PMT) affects many women. It can make you feel moody, 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.
Epilepsy Action would like to thank Dr Janine Winterbottom, advanced nurse specialist in epilepsy at the Walton Centre NHS Foundation Trust, for her contribution to this information.
Dr Janine Winterbottom has declared no conflict of interest.
This information has been produced under the terms of Epilepsy Action's information quality standards.
- Updated July 2020To be reviewed July 2023