Gender difference in management of epilepsy-what women are hearing

Seizure. 1999 May;8(3):135-9. doi: 10.1053/seiz.1999.0274.


This study reports the results of a questionnaire survey of female members of the British Epilepsy Association (BEA). The women were asked about their concerns about their epilepsy with respect to being female, and, in particular, asked about the information they had been given on important topics such as contraception and pregnancy. A questionnaire was sent to 6000 BEA female members of whom 1855 (31%) replied. Forty-six percent of the women (mainly aged between 26 and 45) stated that they currently used some form of contraception. The most frequently used method was the condom (34%). Twenty-two percent of the women using contraception were taking the oral contraceptive pill whilst a further 4% were using a hormonal contraceptive injection. Fifty-one percent of the women aged between 16 and 55 claimed not to have received any advice about possible interactions between contraception and antiepileptic drug therapy. With regards to pregnancy, 34% claimed they had not received any advice and 25% had not discussed pregnancy with anyone. The women planning to have children over the subsequent 2 years received the greatest amount of advice about epilepsy and pregnancy, although 20% still claimed not to have received any information. Thirty-four percent of the women in the study stated that they were either menopausal or post-menopausal. Twenty-nine percent of women who had taken hormone replacement therapy in the past reported an increase in seizure frequency compared with 18% amongst current users. This survey has shown that women with epilepsy want, and need, more information and counselling about issues relating to contraception, pregnancy and the menopause.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anticonvulsants / adverse effects
  • Contraception Behavior / statistics & numerical data
  • Contraceptive Agents, Female / adverse effects
  • Drug Interactions
  • Epilepsy / psychology
  • Epilepsy / therapy*
  • Estrogen Replacement Therapy / adverse effects
  • Female
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Menopause / drug effects
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Education as Topic / statistics & numerical data*
  • Preconception Care / statistics & numerical data
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / epidemiology
  • Pregnancy Complications / therapy
  • Recurrence
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United Kingdom
  • Women / education*
  • Women's Health*


  • Anticonvulsants
  • Contraceptive Agents, Female