Seizures & Epilepsy

Family Planning & Epilepsy

November 22, 2019
Epilepsy & Pregnancy

Family planning and sexuality is an important aspect of adult life that can be impacted by epilepsy or by the medicine used to treat epilepsy.

Certain medicines used to treat epilepsy can also affect hormone levels involved in sexual response and/or the effectiveness of oral contraceptives.

The signs of sexual dysfunction differ between men and women.

  • Some men with epilepsy experience loss of sex drive, while about half experience erectile dysfunction
  • Most women with epilepsy have normal sexual desire, but some may have markedly decreased sexual drive

For sexually active adults, sexual dysfunction can include:

  • Diminished desire and willingness to have sex
  • Diminished sexual arousal

Feeling sad or depressed, vulnerable, scared, angry, helpless, or under pressure can also have a negative impact on sexuality. Express any sexual concerns you have to your doctor and any time you experience side effects from your medicines.

Family Planning + Epilepsy

To help ensure you have a healthy baby, plan carefully with the help of a neurologist to be sure you receive appropriate care before becoming pregnant. Your gynecologist/obstetrician and neurologist should both review your medicine regimen before you try to become pregnant.

Epilepsy & Pregnancy

Epilepsy does not prevent women from becoming pregnant. More than 95% of women with epilepsy who want to have children will have a full-term pregnancy and a healthy child.

Women with epilepsy may be concerned with:

  • The safety of their medicines during pregnancy
  • Potential complications during and after pregnancy for both mother & baby
  • Labor & delivery

Many women with epilepsy find support groups to be helpful. Browse on Facebook groups – there are a ton!

Your gynecologist/obstetrician and neurologist should both be involved in your care and review your medicines before you try to get pregnant.

Prior to becoming pregnant, counseling can help provide insight into the changes that occur during and after pregnancy. The below information will help you understand:

  • Whether your seizures can be effectively controlled with only one medication, to minimize exposure to the fetus.
  • Changes that happen during pregnancy that may affect seizure control
  • Whether certain medicines for seizure control are safe or appropriate for use during and after pregnancy
  • Risk associated with labor and delivery

Pregnancy & Seizures

Seizure control is especially important during pregnancy to help protect the heath of both mother and baby. Doctors have found that most women experience no change in their seizure activity during pregnancy. Also, nearly 95% of women with epilepsy experience seizure-free labor and delivery.

Women who are seizure-free for 9 months or more prior to becoming pregnant are likely to remain seizure-free during a pregnancy.

*Pregnant women with epilepsy who are taking anti-epileptic medicines can register with The North American Anti-epileptic Drug Pregnancy Registry (1-888-233-2334). This is to help researchers study the safety of anti-epileptic medicine use during pregnancy.

Epilepsy & Post-Partum Care

The post-partum period – lasting from birth to about 6 weeks after a baby can be challenging for all women. For new mothers with epilepsy, this can also be a time when:

  • Medicines taken for epilepsy return to pre – pregnancy doses
  • Contraception use should resume
  • There may be more interaction with healthcare providers to help manage care of the mother and newborn

Epilepsy Medicine & Contraception

Contraception can help assure women of childbearing age that their family planning concerns are addressed as part of their overall epilepsy management plan.

Certain medications used to treat epilepsy can interfere with the effectiveness of oral contraceptives. Talk to your doctor about the use of contraceptives while taking epilepsy medication. For example – it may be necessary to increase the dose of an oral contraceptive while taking epilepsy medication.

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