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Periods (the menstrual cycle)

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.

Periods and epilepsy
Seizures and your menstrual cycle

Periods and epilepsy

Your menstrual cycle starts on the first day of your period, and ends on the day before your next period starts. Most women have a menstrual cycle of between 24 and 35 days. The average is 28 days, but some women have periods more often than every 24 days, or less often than every 35 days.

All women are different. Many women have regular periods. They always have the same number of days between the start of one period and the start of the next. Other women have irregular periods. The number of days between their periods can be different each time. Some women very rarely have periods. If your periods are not regular, it can make it harder for you to get pregnant. This is because you won’t be able to identify the days when you are most fertile and most likely to conceive.

Having epilepsy can have an effect on your periods. Some women have irregular periods, especially if they have frequent seizures. Irregular periods can be caused by having epilepsy itself, seizures and some epilepsy medicines.

Epilepsy Action has more information about epilepsy, seizures and epilepsy medicines.

Seizures and your menstrual cycle

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

If you think you have catamenial epilepsy, you could keep a seizure diary for three months. This will help you and your doctor see if there is a pattern. If there is, your doctor can discuss possible treatments with you. One possible treatment is the drug clobazam (Frisium). You would take this as well as your usual epilepsy medicine, but just on the days when you are at a higher risk of having seizures.

Epilepsy Action has seizure diaries

Premenstrual tension
Many women feel moody, bloated, stressed and anxious in the days leading up to their periods. This is known as premenstrual tension (PMT). Some people with epilepsy find that feeling stressed or anxious makes them more likely to have seizures. If PMT causes you to feel stressed or anxious, you might notice that you have more seizures at this time.

If you would like to see this information with references, visit the Advice and Information references section of our website. See Women with epilepsy.

Code: 
B017.04

Epilepsy Action wishes to thank Penny Burt, Nurse Specialist (Epilepsy), Royal Victoria Infirmary, Newcastle for 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 2014
    To be reviewed August 2017

Comments: read the 2 comments or add yours

Comments

I never had seizures until I was fifty years old now I have them every month on or around the time I would normally supposed to have a periods. I am going through menapause and sometime go a few months in between periods but each month the seizures are there. What I don't understand is that I have never had a history of seizures now I amon 2500 mg of keppre and most of the time iI feel good but still have seizures around the timeof my periods. Can anyone help sort this out

Submitted by betty on

Hi Betty

It must have been a shock developing epilepsy at this time of your life. Most people associate epilepsy with childhood but it can develop at any age. For most people there isn’t an explanation and no obvious triggers.

https://www.epilepsy.org.uk/info/triggers

I hope you have found our information on possible connections between epilepsy, periods and menopause helpful.

https://www.epilepsy.org.uk/info/women/menopause

Sometimes it can take a while to find the right drug to control someone’s epilepsy. So if you have only tried keppra, it maybe your neurologist will try a different epilepsy medicine.

https://www.epilepsy.org.uk/info/treatment

If we can be of any more help, please feel free to contact us again, either by email helpline@epilepsy.org.uk or the Epilepsy Action Helpline freephone 0808 800 5050. 

Regards

Diane Wallace
Epilepsy Action Advice and Information Team

Submitted by Diane, Epilepsy... on