Epilepsy drugs linked to infertility in women


Pregnancy is a special moment in a women’s life, especially if it is her first time.  Women are trending towards conceiving at older age than before due to career aspirations, and other priorities.  First pregnancy later than 30 years of age in women can create some complications.  A study was conducted on women in India, which linked pregnancy to epilepsy.  It was found that women who have epilepsy are at a higher risk of infertility. 

The study was conducted on 375 women who planned to have a child.  The average age of women was 26 and were followed until they became pregnant or for up to 10 years. It was reported that 62 percent of the women became pregnant, during the study period. 

The study results indicate that

  • women with epilepsy experienced infertility rate more than twice the 15% rate in the general population.
  • women taking three or more drugs for epilepsy were 18 times more likely to be infertile than those taking no epilepsy drugs (60% vs. 7%).
  • women taking two epilepsy drugs exhibited 41% infertility rates, whereas those taking one epilepsy drug exhibited 32%. 

More specifically, it was found that the drug phenobarbital was associated with significant risk of infertility, while no such link was noted with valproate or other drugs. 

Why the epilepsy drug increase infertility rate?

Study author Sanjeev Thomas, of the Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for...

Medical Sciences and Technology in Trivandrum, India, said that “This may be due to the adverse effects of taking multiple drugs or it could be a more indirect effect because people who are taking multiple drugs are more likely to have severe epilepsy that is difficult to treat.” 

Dr. Steven V. Pacia, director of the Comprehensive Epilepsy Center at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, said: “Certain antiepileptic medications (AEDs), including phenobarbital, may affect the metabolism of normal hormones in women with epilepsy. This effect will be enhanced at higher doses and by the addition of several other AEDS that may be expected in patients with more severe epilepsy. 

The study findings are published in the Oct. 12 print issue of the journal Neurology

The study establishes link between the epilepsy drugs and infertility rate.  If you are trying to conceive and have been unsuccessful, consult your physician about the drugs that you are taking. 

Source: Business Week

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