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Number of seizures may affect start of menopause

10 December, 2001

The results of a small study suggest that the number of seizures a woman with epilepsy has over a lifetime may influence the age at which she goes through menopause.

A study of 31 middle-aged women showed that women who went through menopause early - between the ages of 37 and 45 - had more seizures during their lifetime than women who went through menopause in their 50s.

The report's lead author, Dr Cynthia Harden of Weill Medical College of Cornell University in New York, said:

"Since the brain structures involved in normal reproductive functions can be affected by seizures...it made sense that high seizure rates might contribute to earlier than normal menopause."

All 16 women who went through early menopause had had more than 20 seizures during their lifetime. Of the group of 15 who went through the late menopause, 5 of them had had fewer than 20 seizures in their lifetime.

Dr Harden and her colleagues found no evidence that the number of anti-epileptic medications the women used played any role in their age at menopause.