Health, Wellness & Concerns
FOR WOMEN WHO HAVE EPILEPSY
Women and girls with epilepsy have unique health issues that may be affected by their epilepsy or by treatments used to control seizures.
Hormonal changes can impact epilepsy from puberty through menopause. The hormonal changes during the menstrual cycle are the most likely cause of changes in seizure frequency.
The brain contains many nerve cells that are directly affected by estrogen and progesterone, the main sex hormones in women.
While physicians continue to study the link between hormones and seizure frequency, it’s important to talk to your doctor about the best way to minimize seizure frequency during certain stages of your menstrual cycle.
BIRTH CONTROL & ANTI-SEIZURE MEDICATIONS
When discussing contraception with your healthcare team, it’s important to note that certain anti-seizure medications can interfere with the effectiveness of hormonal birth control.
When talking to your doctor, make sure to discuss all possible contraception options that best fit your needs based on your anti-seizure medication.
In the United States, epilepsy affects nearly one million women of childbearing potential. Nevertheless, most women with epilepsy can and do have normal pregnancies. Some well-documented risks are associated with taking anti-seizure medication (ASM) while pregnant, but the answer usually is not to stop taking the medication.
Seizures in the mother can also cause risks to mom and baby. For instance, what if you had a seizure and fell and injured yourself? A mother falling on her abdomen could injure the fetus. In addition, a generalized tonic clonic seizure may actually induce premature labor and a miscarriage.
Women with epilepsy should follow the traditional rules for having a healthy pregnancy. People who have the most successful pregnancies are the people who are healthiest when they're not pregnant. If you are a woman with epilepsy who plans to get pregnant, talk with your health team about how to best care for yourself and your baby.
When monitoring your health along with your doctor, consider working on a fitness routine. Studies have shown that regular exercise provides physical and emotional benefits for people living with epilepsy.
For some women with epilepsy, it can be difficult to find an exercise routine that works for them and feels safe. Below are some suggestions to help you feel comfortable when starting your fitness journey.
Exercising with epilepsy can pose safety risks for some women depending on their seizure frequency. Never begin a new exercise routine without first consulting your doctor. Once it’s safe to begin exercising, there are additional steps you can take to help avoid injury. Using the buddy system while exercising is a great way to socialize and get moving. Invite your friends or family to go for a light walk, or to try an online yoga tutorial. If you are doing an in-person group activity, make sure to let your instructor know ahead of time that you have epilepsy in case of an emergency. Also consider wearing a medical identification bracelet or necklace with your name, emergency contact information, medication, allergies, and more in case you do have a seizure.
OTHER HEALTH CONSIDERATIONS
For some women, epilepsy can be disabling and can cause many different health problems. Some may have epilepsy along with other disabilities. Women with multiple disabilities may also experience issues with mobility, sensation, pain, thinking or memory, sleep, fatigue, sexuality, and other hormonal problems. Unfortunately, these issues may not be discussed openly. Never be afraid to bring up a health topic that is important to you when speaking with your healthcare team.
No matter where you are in life, paying attention to your own health and staying fit is vital to happiness and overall quality of life.
We encourage you to connect with other women living with epilepsy to share your own personal wellness goals and make new connections. Together, women in the epilepsy community can improve their wellness one step at a time.
"Her Soul is Fierce.
HER HEART IS BRAVE. HER MIND IS STRONG."