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Study Debunks Idea That Epilepsy Can Hamper Fertility

Posted on November 29, 2018

By Robert Preidt, HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, April 30, 2018 (HealthDay News) -- Having epilepsy doesn't appear to lower a woman's chances of becoming pregnant, new research finds.

"Our paper is a myth-buster," said study author Dr. Page Pennell, director of research in the division of epilepsy at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.

"When I entered this specialty, there were a lot of myths and stigma about women living with epilepsy," Pennell said in a hospital news release. "A couple of decades ago, women with epilepsy were discouraged from getting pregnant because it was considered risky."

Epilepsy is a neurological condition marked by seizures, loss of awareness and other health problems.

"Today, we know so much more and have safer medications to help women with epilepsy have a healthy pregnancy. But myths about fertility rates remain. We wanted to evaluate those rates, specifically among women who desired to become pregnant," Pennell said.

The study included 89 women with epilepsy and 108 women without epilepsy who were trying to conceive. The women had no known history of infertility disorders.

Within a year, 60.7 percent of the women with epilepsy and 60.2 percent of the women without epilepsy became pregnant. Both groups took a similar time to conceive and had similar rates of miscarriage and live birth.

Worldwide, about 12.5 million women of childbearing age have epilepsy. Previous studies have found women with epilepsy have lower birth rates than those without epilepsy, but that could be due to fewer women with epilepsy seeking to become pregnant, the researchers said.

Neurologists should talk with female patients of childbearing age "about their plans for starting a family and about effective contraception until then," Pennell suggested.

"Our study indicates that most women with epilepsy have normal fertility rates, so planning ahead, adjusting medications and prescribing vitamins is essential for women with epilepsy throughout their reproductive years," Pennell said.


The study was published April 30 in the journal JAMA Neurology.
SOURCE: Brigham and Women's Hospital


Copyright © 2018 All rights reserved.

Here are some conversations from MyEpilepsyTeam:

"My husband and I want to start trying to conceive. Even though I have been given the go-ahead by my neurologist and OB, I am still nervous."

"Ecstatic obviously but worried about what my meds might do to my Bub. Looking for experiences from other women who have had babies while on AED's???"

"I happy to announce that I'm expecting a baby boy in January 😊. I'm still in shock after being told for years that I could not conceive anymore."

Did you experience any issues with fertility while managing your epilepsy? Share in the comments below or directly on MyEpilepsyTeam.

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