Is there a connection between hormones and seizures? Scientists say there is. But first, let’s define hormones and what they do.
Hormones are chemical substances found all throughout the body. They influence everything from growth to your menstrual cycle. Men and women have a total of three sex hormones that scientists have pegged as the culprits: estrogen, androgen, and progesterone. According to the Epilepsy Foundation, the primary job of sex hormones is to control and maintain our reproductive system. Even though they can also help develop and maintain muscle, bone strength, emotions, and behavior as well.
What’s the Connection?
Research shows that the female hormones estrogen and progesterone respond to brain cells, particularly ones found in the temporal lobe of the brain. This is the location where some seizures start. Estrogen can agitate this part of the brain, and as a result, the individual will suffer a seizure. In direct contrast, natural progesterone – as brought out by the Epilepsy Foundation - can stop or prevent seizures in some women.
Even though not all seizures are caused by hormones, they still can influence their frequency. For example, at the onset of puberty (definitely a time of hormonal changes), some females experience a “switch” in the type of seizure they have – one type stops while another type may start. Or it may be that the number or pattern of their seizures alters around mid-cycle (ovulation) or at the beginning of their menstrual period. This condition is called “catamenial epilepsy.”
Findings also indicate that women who have seizures coming from the temporal lobe often have more reproductive disorders. They may include: polycystic ovaries, early menopause and irregular (or no) ovulation. Remember, the temporal lobe strongly influences the areas of the brain that regulates hormones (hypothalamus and the pituitary gland). It is felt that the seizures disturb the normal activity of hormone production, thereby; causing some reproductive disorders.
What You Can Do
It is important to find out if your seizures are due to hormonal changes. Why?