Two-thirds of women with catamenial epilepsy have diagnosis of partial epilepsy, study finds

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In women of childbearing age with epilepsy, seizure exacerbation may occur either at the time of menstruation or ovulation. Investigators in a specialized epilepsy center have analyzed the data on a group of patients with seizures associated with their menstrual cycles (catamenial seizures) for type of epilepsy, seizure frequency, response to medication, neuroimaging findings, and seizures during pregnancy. (Abstract 3.168) Results of the study at the University of California, Irvine, Comprehensive Epilepsy Center were presented today at the America Epilepsy Society's 65th annual meeting here at the Baltimore Convention Center.

The investigators found that two-thirds of the women with catamenial epilepsy had a diagnosis of partial epilepsy, with the remaining one-third having primary generalized epilepsy. Nearly three-quarters had medically refractory seizures, a rate twice that of female epilepsy patients the same age who do not have catamenial seizures.

In the study, a standard questionnaire that included questions regarding significant exacerbation of seizures associated with their menstrual cycle was given to women with epilepsy ranging in age from 19 to 50. The patients' response, together with their monthly seizure calendar, was used to identify women with catamenial seizures.

Authors Avriel Linane and Mona Sazgar reported that, "Women with catamenial epilepsy in our tertiary care study group had a much higher rate of medically refractory and lesional epilepsy compared with the general epilepsy population. A greater percentage of the catamenial epilepsy patients had primary generalized epilepsy compared with what we would expect to see in the general population. A high percentage of our catamenial epilepsy patients who had children reported having more seizures during their pregnancy."


  1. Kim W. Kim W. United States says:

    I'm curious if you found any difference between pregnancy with male versus female babies? I think that I have catamenial epilepsy.... with my first pregancy (son) I had no seizure increase/activity problems... but with my second pregancy (daughter) the seizures were off the charts!

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