Reproductive disturbances in patients with epilepsy

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In persons with epilepsy, both seizures and antiepileptic drugs can disturb reproductive health. For example, seizures can alter the release of hypothalamic and pituitary hormones, while some antiepileptic drugs alter concentrations of sex steroid hormones. Women with epilepsy are at increased risk for polycystic ovary syndrome and disorders of the menstrual cycle. Studies have found reduced fertility rates among men and women with epilepsy. The reasons for this reduction in fertility are likely to be both psychosocial and physiologic, and again, both epilepsy itself and antiepileptic drugs are implicated. Sexual dysfunction is common among patients with epilepsy and can have a somatic, psychological, or social basis. To provide the best care for patients with epilepsy, particularly women of reproductive age, clinicians must consider both the gender-based biology of epilepsy and the effects of antiepileptic drugs on reproductive health.


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