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Epilepsia. 1998;39 Suppl 8:S32-7.

Effects of epilepsy on women's reproductive health.

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Department of Neurology, College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University, New York, New York, USA.


Reproductive dysfunctions are common and wide-ranging in women with epilepsy. Menstrual cycle disruption, anovulatory cycles, disturbances in hypothalamic and/or pituitary hormones, and disturbances in gonadal steroids are more common among women with epilepsy. Sexual dysfunction can present as either disorders of desire or physiologic arousal, but the most common dysfunction appears to be an inadequate initial physiologic arousal response. Reproductive dysfunctions may be due to psychologic, pharmacologic, or physiologic factors. Physicians should routinely question all women with epilepsy regarding their reproductive and sexual health. A full history, a complete physical, and laboratory evaluations with endocrinologic work-up should be performed in any woman who reports a reproductive dysfunction. Treatment and/or referral to a gynecologist or endocrinologist should be initiated as appropriate.

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