Health & Environment

Birth Control Pills May Increase Risk Of Seizures

New study shows hormonal contraceptives can increase seizures in women with epilepsy.
By Leslie Waghorn, Texas A&M Health Science Center March 30, 2016

birth control
Certain types of hormonal contraceptives could increase seizures in women with epilepsy.

(BigStock photo)

Could certain types of hormonal contraceptives cause an increase in seizures in women with epilepsy? A recent Texas A&M Health Science Center study suggests that ethinyl estradiol, the primary component of oral contraceptives, could be detrimental to the epileptic brain. The findings were recently published in the journal Epilepsy Research.

“We were inspired by an earlier study which surveyed women with epilepsy and found that those using hormonal contraceptives self-reported 4.5 times more seizures than those that did not use oral contraceptives,” said D. Samba Reddy, Ph.D., R.Ph., professor of neuroscience and experimental therapeutics at Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine, principal investigator of the study.

The study found that when epileptic animal models received ethinyl estradiol, they not only had more frequent seizures, but the seizures were more likely to be uncontrolled. “We suspected for some time that hormonal birth control increases seizure activity in women with epilepsy, but now we know what part of the contraceptive is problematic.”

Reddy says epilepsy is more difficult to control in women once they reach sexual maturity. “The hormones that control menstruation and pregnancy can trigger seizures,” he says. “Women often experience more seizures in the week before their period due to the change in these hormones.”

Continue reading on Vital Record.

This article by Leslie Waghorn originally appeared in Vital Record.

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