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Seizure. 2008 Mar;17(2):176-80. doi: 10.1016/j.seizure.2007.11.026. Epub 2008 Jan 9.

Hormone replacement therapy: will it affect seizure control and AED levels?

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Comprehensive Epilepsy Center, Department of Neurology, Weill Cornell Medical College, New York, NY, United States.


Interest in the years of reproductive changes for women with epilepsy (WWE), specifically perimenopause, menopause and postmenopause has been emerging in the epilepsy community. This article discusses evidence for changes in seizure frequency during perimenopause and postmenopause. Further, a catamenial epilepsy pattern during the reproductive years may be a hallmark for the observed seizure frequency change during these years; that is, an increase at perimenopause but a decrease at menopause. This finding implies that a subset of WWE are particularly susceptible to endogenous reproductive hormonal changes. An adverse effect on seizure frequency with the use of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) during postmenopause for WWE was reported in questionnaires, and was later borne out in a clinical trial. The laboratory counterpart of this human trial, HRT in ovariectomized rodent seizure models, shows that estrogen and progesterone are neuroprotective and do not uniformly increase seizure frequency. Possible reasons for the discrepancy between "the lab and the clinic" are presented. Strategies for managing HRT in symptomatic postmenopausal WWE using estrogenic and progestogenic compounds that may be less likely to promote seizures are discussed.

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