Variation of seizure frequency with ovulatory status of menstrual cycles

Authors


Address correspondence to Andrew G. Herzog, M.D., M.Sc., Director, Harvard Neuroendocrine Unit, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, 422 Worcester Street, Suite 303, Wellesley, MA 02481, U.S.A. E-mail: aherzog@bidmc.harvard.edu

Summary

Purpose:  To determine if seizure frequency differs between anovulatory and ovulatory cycles.

Methods:  The data came from the 3-month baseline phase of an investigation of progesterone therapy for intractable focal onset seizures. Of 462 women who enrolled, 281 completed the 3-month baseline phase and 92 had both anovulatory and ovulatory cycles during the baseline phase. Midluteal progesterone levels ≥5 ng/ml were used to designate cycles as ovulatory. Among the 92 women, average daily seizure frequency (ADSF) for all seizures combined and each type of seizure considered separately (secondary generalized tonic–clonic seizures – 2°GTCS, complex partial seizures – CPS, simple partial seizures – SPS) were compared between anovulatory and ovulatory cycles using paired t-tests. A relationship between the proportional differences in ADSF and estradiol/progesterone (EP) serum level ratios between anovulatory and ovulatory cycles was determined using bivariate correlational analysis.

Key Findings:  ADSF was 29.5% greater for 2°GTCS during anovulatory than during ovulatory cycles. ADSF did not differ significantly for CPS or SPS or for all seizures combined. Proportional differences in anovulatory/ovulatory 2°GTCS ADSF ratios correlated significantly with differences in anovulatory/ovulatory EP ratios. Among the 281 women, the three seizure types did not differ in ovulatory rates, but EP ratios were greater for cycles with 2°GTCS than partial seizures only.

Significance:  Seizure frequency is significantly greater for 2°GTCS, but not CPS or SPS, during anovulatory cycles than ovulatory cycles. Because the proportional increases in 2°GTCS frequency during anovulatory cycles correlate with the proportional increases in EP level ratios, these findings support a possible role for reproductive steroids in 2°GTCS occurrence.

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