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Reproductive Dysfunction in Women With Epilepsy: Antiepileptic Drug Effects on Sex-Steroid Hormones

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  07 November 2014

Abstract

Women with epilepsy are at risk for reproductive health dysfunction. Sex-steroid hormone abnormalities have been reported in women with epilepsy, but it has been difficult to determine whether these abnormalities are due to epilepsy-related hypothalamic-pituitary axis dysfunction, or to pharmacokinetic actions of antiepileptic drugs (AEDs). Sex-steroid hormones were evaluated in 84 reproductive-aged women with epilepsy receiving an AED in monotherapy, and in 20 nonepileptic controls. Estrone, free testosterone, and androstenedione were significantly lower in subjects receiving enzyme-inducing AEDs than in nonepileptic controls. Free testosterone was significantly elevated in subjects receiving valproate compared to nonepileptic controls. Subjects with epilepsy receiving gabapentin or lamotrigine were no different from the nonepileptic controls in any of the endocrine variables. Subjects with epilepsy who are receiving AEDs that alter cytochrome P450 enzymes are at risk for significant abnormalities in sex-steroid hormones. In contrast, subjects receiving AEDs that do not alter cytochrome P450 enzymes show no differences in sex-steroid hormones compared with nonepileptic controls. With new AEDs available that do not alter cytochrome P450 enzymes, physician selection of therapy should consider not only seizure control, but also potential effects on reproductive physiology.

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Feature Articles
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2001

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References

Disclosure: This work was supported by a grant from Glaxo Wellcome, Inc.

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