The role of sex steroids in catamenial epilepsy and premenstrual dysphoric disorder: implications for diagnosis and treatment

Epilepsy Behav. 2008 Jul;13(1):12-24. doi: 10.1016/j.yebeh.2008.02.004. Epub 2008 Mar 17.


Despite our understanding of hormonal influences on central nervous system (CNS) function, there is still much to learn about the pathogenesis of menstrual cycle-linked disorders. A growing literature suggests that the influence of sex steroids on neurological and psychiatric disorders is in part mediated by an aberrant CNS response to neuroactive steroids. Although sex steroids such as estradiol, progesterone, and the progesterone derivative allopregnanolone (ALLO) influence numerous neurotransmitter systems, it is their potent effect on the brain's primary inhibitory and excitatory neurotransmitters gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) and glutamate that links the study of premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) and catamenial epilepsy (CE). After providing an overview of these menstrual cycle-linked disorders, this article focuses on the preclinical and clinical research investigating the role of estradiol and progesterone (via ALLO) in the etiology of PMDD and CE. Through exploration of the phenomenological and neurobiological overlap between CE and PMDD, we aim to highlight areas for future research and development of treatments for menstrual cycle-linked neuropsychiatric disorders.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Epilepsy / diagnosis
  • Epilepsy / metabolism*
  • Epilepsy / therapy
  • Estradiol / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Premenstrual Syndrome / diagnosis
  • Premenstrual Syndrome / metabolism*
  • Premenstrual Syndrome / therapy
  • Progesterone / metabolism*


  • Progesterone
  • Estradiol