What we Learned: Epilepsy and Menopause
Speaking at this year’s Thinking Outside the Box Epilepsy Symposium, Associate Professor Lata Vadlamudi delved into the complex interplay between epilepsy and menopause, and the yawning chasm between the information available and the information women and clinicians need.
“A recent study showed that epilepsy itself can affect many aspects of how bones are metabolised,” A/Prof Vadlamudi said.
“So, you’ve got the epilepsy affecting bones, but then there are the anti-seizure medications – which can affect bone acquisition, increase the turnover of bone and also reduce vitamin D levels, all of which are important for bone health.
“So, putting all that together, people with epilepsy are at a higher risk of fractures. Risk of fractures increases 4-6% every year on anti-seizure medication.
“We also know if you have a big convulsive seizure, there’s an increased risk of falls and fracture. Another aspect not to forget is that the anti-seizure medications; can cause drowsiness or lead to poor balance and dizziness, once again increasing that risk of falls.
“You’ve got all that in the background with the epilepsy, and then you add menopause. The symptoms of menopause, such as sleep deprivation, anxiety, mood changes, can all aggravate your seizures too.
- If you have poorly controlled epilepsy, you may have an earlier age menopause.
- About 14% of women with epilepsy have premature ovarian failure, which is greater than the normal population. That’s also more likely to occur for those with catamenial epilepsy – increased seizures at certain times in the menstrual cycle
- Studies suggest an increase in seizures during the peri-menopausal period is more likely if you have a history of catamenial epilepsy.
- Women must ensure that their Vitamin D levels are checked regularly, to ensure they’re maintained at the upper limit of normal not just above the lower limit.
- Australian Women with Epilepsy is a private space for women living with epilepsy to speak openly about what they are going through, with people that understand their story.
To watch Prof Vadlamudi’s presentation in full and find out more about the complex ‘Push Me Pull You’ relationship between epilepsy and menopause, register here for access to recordings of this year’s Thinking Outside the Box | Epilepsy Symposium.