Yep. I’m going there. That awkward, not-often talked about subject coupled with epilepsy.
First thing’s first. That time of the month sucks. An unwelcome guest that barges in and makes itself feel right at home every month, with us ladies. Sometimes we feel sleepy. Sometimes we experience belly pain, or are… to put it politely, cranky.
What are seizure triggers?
Seizure triggers are situations that can bring on a seizure in some people with epilepsy. For example, missed medication, sleep deprivation, caffeine or stress. Maybe a culmination of these. Do you know your seizure triggers?
Surprisingly, a woman’s menstrual cycle can be a seizure trigger as well.
What is “Catamenial Epilepsy”?
This condition is a subset of epilepsy, which includes women whose seizures are exacerbated by their menstrual cycle. Women with catamenial epilepsy are unusually sensitive to hormonal changes.
Let’s break this down a little further. A woman with this type of epilepsy might only experience seizure activity around menstruation. If you tend to notice heightened seizure activity before or during menstruation, even during ovulation, you might want to jot that down as a potential seizure trigger.
“Menstrually related hormonal fluctuations in estrogen and progesterone underlie the patterns of catamenial seizure exacerbation. Estrogens facilitate seizures, whereas progesterone protects against seizures. During the menstrual cycle, serum levels of estradiol and progesterone fluctuate.” – epilepsy.com
Two years after being diagnosed, I detected an escalation in my seizure activity. Especially at the time of ovulation. Before and during menstruation, auras and complex partial seizures popped up like whack-a-mole. I wasn’t ready to claim it as a trigger because I couldn’t make sense of it. That is, until over time, the pattern began to make itself boldly noticeable.
What do I call that? How do I research that? Where do I begin? Tirelessly I studied until I got an answer and determined that this indeed was a trigger to add to the list, for me.
Studies suggest that catamenial epilepsy is seen in roughly 42% of women with epilepsy.
I know that it may feel or seem like an awkward topic to discuss but it’s best to not cower at any matter revolving around epilepsy.
I have catamenial epilepsy. The seizures I endure before and during menstruation are (to say the least) annoying, and frustrating on top of the belly pain and exhaustion.
When going through it, this is my indisputable “Me-Time”.
How I best manage my catamenial epilepsy:
- Drink plenty of water in order to stay hydrated and energized
- Get plenty of rest to restore my body and brain’s energy
- Limit stressful activities and situations in order to avoid provoking seizure activity
- Do stretch exercises to alleviate stress, tension and pain
- Drink non-caffeinated teas (Personal favorites: Ginger Tea and Chamomile Tea) for relaxation and restoration
- Listen to calming and relaxing music to soothe any stress or anxiety
Even when it comes to the tough topics, speak up and speak out. Let’s show epilepsy and the world that we are tough-stuff when taking on any challenge.
Share your thoughts and takeaways in the comments section!