Did you know that November is Epilepsy Awareness month?
Members of the Comprehensive Epilepsy Center will be sharing information on a variety of topics related to epilepsy in our blog over the course of the month. If there is a topic that you want to learn more about, check out our online epilepsy patient resources or leave us a note and we will do our best to address your questions.
Thanks to Dr. Ekrem Kutluay and Elizabeth Hamilton, NP-C for sharing the information below on what every women should know if they are diagnosed with epilepsy.
Epilepsy occurs in women of all ages and over one million females in the United States suffer from epilepsy. These women face many unique issues because of the hormonal changes experienced by females. Some women have increased seizures around their menstrual cycle. Other problems may also arise related to bone health, reproductive function, contraceptive choices, pregnancy, and menopause. Many women with epilepsy have uncertainties about issues, such as birth control options, the risk of reproductive dysfunction, and the risks associated with taking antiepileptic medications or having seizures during pregnancy.
One common misconception is that women should not become pregnant if they are being treated for epilepsy or have had seizures in the past. The majority of women with epilepsy (>90%) can have a normal pregnancy, labor, and delivery. Women being treated for epilepsy have a slightly greater chance of having a baby with a birth defect, such as cleft lip, neural tube defect, or problems with the heart or kidneys. Proper planning and prenatal care helps reduce these risks. Valproate is the antiepileptic medication that is most often associated with birth defects and this medication should not be used in women planning a pregnancy.
The best plan is to adjust medications and try to get seizures under control before becoming pregnant. Folate is an important vitamin that can help to prevent neural tube defects. Women of childbearing age being treated for epilepsy should take between 1 to 4 mg of Folate daily. In addition, women not planning a pregnancy should also be counseled on how seizure medications may effects birth control pills. Some antiepileptic medications may decrease the effectiveness of birth control pills. Women with epilepsy face many unique challenges related to pregnancy and family planning. Education on these topics and good communication are essential in helping these women to make informed choices regarding their women’s health issues.
Do you want to get involved in supporting epilepsy in South Carolina?
Join us at the Hockey Heroes for Epilepsy event on November 19, 2011 at 7 p.m.
You can learn more about the event at the South Carolina Advocates for Epilepsy Facebook page.