Because puberty is a time of such rapid changes in a girl’s life, it’s common to wonder how these changes may affect epileptic seizures. Considering the connection between some hormones and seizures, it’s important to have all the facts.
The Role of Hormones
Adolescent girls experience significant changes in appearance, emotions and cognition while going through puberty. These changes arise due to the hormonal changes in their bodies that fuel their transition into adulthood.
Considering this heightened hormonal activity, it isn’t surprising that some girls also experience changes in their seizures during puberty. Certain types of epilepsy, such as juvenile myoclonic epilepsy (JME), are more likely to start during puberty. It’s important for young women who experience seizures to work closely with a pediatric neurologist.
Hormones themselves do not typically cause seizures, but they can influence when and how often they occur. Some girls with epilepsy experience changes in their seizure patterns as their hormone levels change. Girls with epilepsy may see some types of seizures disappear, while other disorders start as they enter puberty.
Anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs) are a common way to prevent seizures in girls. But like any medication, they can cause side effects in some children. AEDs can cause unwanted weight gain or weight loss and affect the menstrual cycle in adolescent girls.
Some AEDs can also affect pregnancy and childbirth. Although this isn’t generally a concern for young girls, a pediatric neurologist will take this into account if it’s believed the medication will be needed for a long period of time.