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 home every month, with us ladies. Sometimes we feel sleepy. Sometimes we experience belly aches or are… to put it politely, cranky.
Seizure triggers are situations that can bring on a seizure in some people with epilepsy. For example, 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. This form of epilepsy is called “Catamenial Epilepsy”
What is “Catamenial Epilepsy”
This form of epilepsy 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 that time of the month. Talk about a double dose of “Not cool” right? It’s a rare occurrence, but if you tend to notice a heighten in seizure activity before or during that time of the month, 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
After two years, I began to take notice of an addition within my seizure triggers. Seizure activity amplified at the time of ovulation. Before and during. Sometimes simply auras, sometimes, complex partials, once in a blue moon, like a right hook, a grand mal seizure. I wasn’t ready to claim it a trigger at the time because I couldn’t make sense of it. That is, until over time, the pattern began to make itself boldly noticeable. What do we call that? How do we research that? Where do we begin? We wondered. Tirelessly we studied until we got our answer and determined that this indeed was a trigger to add to the list for me.
Uncommon. Yes. You won’t find this on most websites under types of epilepsy. It is my belief, I want to make it clear that I am not a medical professional, that more studies on the topic must be done.
Women, I know that it may feel or seem like an awkward topic to discuss but guess what? As advocates, as fearless fighters of epilepsy, we do not cower to any matter revolving around epilepsy.
I have catamenial epilepsy. The seizures I endure before and during are annoying, and frustrating on top of the belly pain and exhaustion. It’s my without a doubt “Me-Time”.
What Do I Do During This Time:
- 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/or pain caused by that time of the month and/or seizure activity
- Drink non-caffeinated teas (Personal favorites: Green Tea, Ginger Tea, Chamomile Tea) for relaxation and restoration
I also have refractory epilepsy which include multiple forms of seizures. This is the journey that I refuse to let take me down.
Speak up. Speak out. Even about the tough stuff. Let’s show epilepsy and the world that we are tough stuff when taking on this challenge.
Share your thoughts and takeaways in the comments section!