Puberty is the time when a girl’s body transforms into a woman’s body.
- You will grow more body hair.
- Your breasts will develop.
- You will start to have periods (menstrual cycles).
Epilepsy usually doesn’t affect how or when you go through puberty. Most girls notice these changes between the ages of 10 and 14 – but some girls may notice it sooner or later.
When girls start getting their periods, their bodies start making cyclical changes in chemicals called hormones.
- Hormone levels rise and fall every month, and these cycles can affect emotions and mood.
- Some girls will experience more depression, anxiety, or irritability the week before and the first few days of their period.
Girls with epilepsy may be at greater risk of these mood problems, both because of the epilepsy itself and possibly because of their anti-seizure medication (ASM).
Be sure to talk to your health team about these issues, because help is available!
Periods and seizures
Some girls may find that they have more frequent seizures at certain times of the month – usually either in the middle between periods (middle of the cycle) or just before their period starts. This is known as “catamenial epilepsy” and is due to hormonal effects on the brain. Not all girls will notice such a pattern. If you do, speak to your neurologist about ways to better control your seizures.
Learning to drive and getting a driver’s license can be the most important step in gaining a sense of independence in your teenage years. Girls with epilepsy may have a delay in reaching this milestone if their seizures are not controlled. Driving a car is exciting, but also very dangerous. Different states have different laws how long you need to be seizure free before getting your driver’s license.
have a party
As a teenager, you may feel pressured to drink alcohol or use drugs in social situations. Some people will try to convince you that this will make you feel better, more relaxed, or happier – and you might be curious.
As a person with epilepsy, you need to be aware that drinking alcohol or certain drugs, especially “stimulant” drugs like amphetamines and cocaine, puts you at greater risk of serious health effects.
Stimulants make you more likely to have a seizure, and alcohol withdrawal can do the same.
Make wise decisions!
It is important in all phases of life to have friends who understand and support you. As a teenager, you are likely to make friends that will last a lifetime. You may be afraid to talk to your friends about your epilepsy – and you don’t have to tell everyone you know – but if you spend a lot of time with someone and even have the occasional seizure, it is probably best to discuss what What could happen to you when you have a seizure and what to do when they see you having one.
Choosing to have sex
The question that arises during your teenage years is likely to be if and when to start having sex. You may have friends who start having sex and tell you that you should, too. We hear about it in music and see it in movies … but that doesn’t mean you have to have sex before you’re ready to be “normal”.
It is a very personal choice that should be made carefully. Girls should never feel pressured to have sex. If you do decide to have sex, it is important to understand the potential consequences and take steps to prevent exposure to sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and prevent unwanted pregnancies.
Make sure you understand how having epilepsy and taking anti-seizure medications can affect your contraception decisions.
Using condoms during every sexual intercourse is the best way to avoid exposure to sexually transmitted diseases. but as a method of contraception, it is not 100% reliable. Not a method, but certain options like intrauterine devices (IUDs) are much more reliable in preventing pregnancy.
Other sensible options are birth control pills or other hormonal methods (implants, patches, and injections) – but these may not be the best choices for girls with epilepsy due to hormonal interactions with anti-epileptic drugs.
Before you start having sex, do some research on birth control and talk to your doctor about options.
If / when you would like to have children of your own, you should speak to your neurologist at an early stage. Information on topics such as fertility, pregnancy and breastfeeding can be found on other pages of this website.
People with epilepsy are more likely to have difficulty concentrating and memory than people without epilepsy. This may be particularly noticeable while you’re still at school. Talk to your doctor to find out if your memory and concentration problems are due to medication side effects, and if medication changes are safe to make. Otherwise, talk to your teachers about giving you extra time to take tests.
Jobs and career planning
As a teenager, you can at least work part-time or during the summer until you finish high school. This is also the time when most people start thinking about long-term career planning. Are you going to college Join the military? Learn a trade?
Almost all of the options should be available to most people with epilepsy, unless the job is particularly risky and the seizures are not well controlled.
Any job that involves driving, climbing in high places, using firearms, or working near dangerous equipment or water could be considered risky for someone with uncontrolled seizures. People with epilepsy can still do many such jobs if their seizures are well controlled with medication. There are a few jobs that are not available to people with epilepsy, such as: B. Truck driver and pilot.
Establish your identity – become YOU
The teenage years are a time of great change. You can sometimes struggle in figuring out which person you want to become as an adult. Having epilepsy may feel like an extra burden, but it shouldn’t define you. You are not an “epileptic” – you are a young woman (who happens to have epilepsy) who can be successful and happy. Work with your neurologist and other health care providers to keep your seizures under control. Make healthy decisions … and seize the day!