Menstrual Disorders in Women with Epilepsy Receiving Carbamazepine


Address correspondence and reprint requests to Dr. J. I. T. Isojärvi at Department of Neurology, University of Oulu, FIN-90220 Oulu, Finland.


Summary: We measured concentrations of serum sex hormones and sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG) in relation to regularity of the menstrual cycles in 8 women before carbamazepine (CBZ) treatment was initiated and after 1 and 5 years of CBZ therapy. In addition, we evaluated menstrual cycle regularity and related endocrine changes in 56 women receiving CBZ treatment for >5 years. Serum SHBG levels increased, and serum concentrations of 17β-estradiol (estradiol) and estradiol/SHBG ratio decreased during CBZ treatment. Two of the 8 patients (25%) in the prospective study group developed menstrual irregularities during the first 5 years of therapy. In the cross-sectional study group of patients treated with CBZ for >5 years, the frequency of menstrual disturbances was also 25.0% (14 of 56 patients). Concentrations of serum sex hormones and SHBG were measured in 13 women with menstrual disorders and in 11 randomly selected women with regular cycles. In most cases, menstrual disorders were associated with increased serum SHBG and decreased serum estradiol levels and low estradiol/SHBG ratio. Long-term CBZ treatment results in increased serum SHBG levels and decreased estradiol effect, which correlate with the frequency of menstrual disorders in CBZ-treated women with epilepsy.