Birth control and epilepsy

Can I take birth control if I have epilepsy? The answer may surprise you. Learn more about birth control and epilepsy.

Pregnancy can be overwhelming for anyone, and having epilepsy adds another layer to an already stressful time. Epilepsy affects people assigned female at birth differently. Additional factors such as hormone levels, environmental factors and genetics also contribute to a complex situation. Taking birth control if you have epilepsy should be discussed with your health care team to be sure you stay healthy and safe. Is birth control safe for people with epilepsy? Here’s what you need to know.

Birth control and epilepsy

Hormones play a key role in when someone might have a seizure.

Norton Neuroscience Institute Comprehensive Epilepsy Center

Our Comprehensive Epilepsy Center is accredited as the highest-level (Level 4) center by the National Association of Epilepsy Centers, meaning we care for patients with the most complex forms of epilepsy and seizure disorders.

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Oral contraceptives (often referred to as “the pill”), some intrauterine devices (IUDs), implants and injections deliver specific amounts of specific hormones to prevent pregnancy. Epilepsy drugs sometimes can interfere with hormonal birth control, making the birth control less effective at preventing unplanned pregnancy.  

Dr. Woods asks all her patients with epilepsy to plan their pregnancies and talk to their health care team.

“I have patients take folic acid before and during pregnancy to prevent birth defects. I also want to know if they are trying to conceive and if they get pregnant and it was not planned,” Dr. Woods said.

It is important to tell your health care providers if you are planning to get pregnant. It is also critical not to stop taking epilepsy medications.

“I monitor patients carefully,” Dr. Woods said. “We can tweak medications and find what works for the patient and potentially the baby.”

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