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Am J Med. 2001 Sep;111(4):290-6.

Altered ovarian function and cardiovascular risk factors in valproate-treated women.

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  • 1Department of Neurology, University of Oulu, FIN-90220 Oulu, Finland.



Polycystic ovaries and menstrual disturbances seem to be common among women taking valproate for epilepsy. The purpose of the present study was to assess the frequency of valproate-related metabolic and endocrine disorders in different groups of women with epilepsy.


Seventy-two women with epilepsy and 52 control subjects from centers in three European countries (Finland, Norway, and the Netherlands) participated in the study. Thirty-seven of the women with epilepsy were taking valproate monotherapy and 35 carbamazepine monotherapy.


The frequency of polycystic ovaries or hyperandrogenism, or both, among valproate-treated women with epilepsy was 70% (26 of 37) compared with 19% (10 of 52) among control subjects (P <0.001). They were found in 79% (11 of 14) of obese and 65% (15 of 23) of lean women on valproate, and in 20% (7 of 35) of carbamazepine-treated women. The obese valproate-treated women with polycystic ovaries or hyperandrogenism, or both, had hyperinsulinemia and associated unfavorable changes in serum lipid levels consistent with insulin resistance.


Polycystic ovaries and related hyperandrogenism are frequently encountered in both obese and lean women taking valproate for epilepsy. The use of valproate is associated with risk factors for cardiovascular disease in obese women.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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