Seizure occurrence during ovulatory and anovulatory cycles in patients with temporal lobe epilepsy: a prospective study

Eur J Neurol. 1998 Jan;5(1):83-88. doi: 10.1046/j.1468-1331.1998.510083.x.


We investigated the influence of ovulatory and anovulatory menstrual cycles on seizure occurrence in female patients with complex partial seizures. We prospectively documented seizures in relation to menstrual cycles (defined by measurement of basal body temperature and progesterone serum concentrations) in 39 female patients. One hundred and thirty-two cycles of 35 patients entered final analysis. Only eight patients had anovulatory cycles, in 18 patients all cycles were ovulatory. In the remaining nine patients anovulatory as well as ovulatory cycles were documented. In ovulatory cycles the mean frequency of seizures during the days of menstruation was significantly higher as compared to the periovulatory or the luteal phase of the cycles. During anovulatory cycles seizure frequency was significantly lower during menstruation than in the remaining days of the cycles. Since progesterone is known to exhibit anticonvulsant effects, seizure occurrence during menstruation seems to be related to ovulatory cycles, possibly due to the premenstrual decrease of progesterone. Therapeutic recommendations for the treatment of seizures related to the menstrual cycle (catamenial seizures) include the administration of hormones, as progesterone (recommended especially for women with catamenial epilepsy who have a documented inadequate luteal phase) or the suppression of the menstrual hormonal cycle by synthetic gonadotropin releasing hormone analogs.