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What's the Connection between Hormones & Seizures?

Learn about the connection between hormones and seizures from Steve Wolf, MD and Patty McGoldrick, NP in this Howcast video.


Hormones play an important role in seizures and epilepsy. I guess the number one area being puberty, because when we see rapid puberty development in teenagers, we frequently see an outburst of seizures going on. Girls and women often have more seizures according to their menstrual cycle, so at the time of ovulation and at the time of menstruation they're more prone to have seizures. Because estrogen is pro-convulsive and Progesterone is somewhat protective and anti-convulsive. Now we've heard a lot of times parents will say to us, 'well is there some way to control the hormones, to help decrease the seizures?' What's your thought about that? What we do is we can use birth control pills to stop ovulation and to regulate the periods so that there's less seizures around that, but you have to be careful which birth control pills you're using. There's no real way of stopping puberty. There's no real way of stopping menstruation. Although there are long-acting oral contraceptives you can use. And then there are certain medications that we can use right around the time of her period to decrease the risk of seizures. So, basically, what we see is that, we know that certain patients are very sensitive to hormones, so that during puberty there can be an outburst of seizures. Uh, we know that during menstrual cycles and ovulation that can trigger them off. There are certain medications that you can discuss with your doctor that might be preventative that you can use right before ovulation or menstrual cycle that might be helpful, and so that would be an important conversation. Even using Progesterone, there are medications called Diamox, or even just adjusting the anti-seizure medication might be somewhat protective during that time. So, it's important to be aware of these transitions and aware that hormones can make a big difference.

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