Epilepsy & Pregnancy – Questions for your Doctor

Your doctor should help you understand everything you’ll need to know as a woman with epilepsy.

The questions below can help you to prepare for your conversation with them.

Questions for women with epilepsy

Will my anti-seizure medication (ASM) interact with my contraceptive?

Some anti-seizure medications (ASMs) can increase the risk your contraceptive failing. If you’re a woman of childbearing age with epilepsy, you really need to talk with your doctor about contraception and family planning, so you can avoid an unplanned pregnancy.

Will my anti-seizure medication (ASM) affect my sex life?

Any ASM can cause sexual difficulties. If you have a problem, ask your doctor if you can try a different ASM.

Do I need to worry about seizures during sex?

You may feel embarrassed talking with your doctor about sexual problems, but when you speak openly, your doctor can understand your issue and help you overcome it.

Questions for women who are trying to conceive

What should I know before becoming pregnant?

Most women with epilepsy have healthy babies but preplanning is very important. Talk with your doctor well in advance if you are considering having a baby.

Will my epilepsy make it more difficult for me to conceive?

Hormonal irregularities and anti-seizure medication (ASM) anti-seizure medication (ASM) can cause fertility problems

What are the benefits of pre-pregnancy seizure control?

This is an issue to discuss with your doctor and one of the reasons why planning a pregnancy well in advance is so important

Are there alternative treatment options to ASMs that could work for me?

Surgery or vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) therapy are options that may, or may not, be suitable for you.

Will my child have epilepsy?

If you’re worried that your baby might have epilepsy, talk to your doctor about seeing a genetic counsellor.

I am taking valproate and want to get pregnant – what should I do?

Valproate can be very effective in controlling seizures, but if you have epilepsy and get pregnant while taking valproate, your baby is at high risk of serious birth defects and developmental disorders.

Will my seizures change when I am pregnant?

Some women have more seizures, or more severe seizures, during pregnancy although for others the frequency and severity remains unchanged. Ask your doctor about this, if you are worried.

Questions for women who are pregnant

I’m pregnant and am taking valproate. What should I do?

If you think you’re pregnant while taking valproate, contact your doctor as soon as possible. They may continue to prescribe valproate, but only if there’s no other suitable treatment for your epilepsy. 

Will my medicines affect my baby?

Both seizures and seizure medications pose risks to a developing baby. It is important that you talk with your doctor about this.

Can I have a normal delivery and how can I reduce my risk of a seizure during labour?

Talk with your doctor and obstetrician before your planned admission date about seizure management while in labour.

Can I breastfeed my baby?

In general, if you have epilepsy, you can breastfeed your baby without any harmful effects to them from your breast milk but you might like to ask your doctor for guidance on this.

Will my seizures change after I have a baby?

Ask your doctor about monitoring your medication levels in case they need to be adjusted and on the symptoms you need to recognise if levels are too high.

What is the most suitable contraception to use after giving birth?

Make sure you talk with your doctor and your obstetrician to identify the best contraception method in the weeks after the birth. This is especially important if the contraception method you had been using is hormonal.

Wherever you are on your journey, we have information to support you…

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I'm already a mother - Women & Epilepsy