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Special Concerns for Teenage Girls

The nurse who helps me with my epilepsy medication told me recently I was "going into puberty" and might "outgrow my dose." What does that mean?
Puberty is the time when your body changes and you grow from a child into an adult. You get taller and weigh more, and you start to grow breasts and body hair. Some of these physical changes happen quickly and the dose of seizure medicine that worked before is not enough for your new body size. Your doctor may order more frequent lab tests to check the level of medication in your blood, to be sure that you are taking enough medicine to keep your seizures controlled.

I've had "petit mal" seizures since I was in first grade. My doctor said I would probably outgrow them when I was a teenager. Is that true?
There are certain kinds of seizures that are almost always outgrown in teenage years. Petit mal seizures (also known as "childhood absence") are an example. You and your doctor will decide with your parents when it is safe to stop your medication. This doesn't always work and you may still have seizures. Then you need to keep taking your medicine.

My friend takes a different medication for her seizures. Which is the best one?
There are many good medications for seizures, and some work for one type of seizure better than they do for other types of seizures. You and your doctor choose your medication by the pattern of your EEG and how the medicine affects you. You need to let him or her know if you are still having seizures or if you feel bad or funny when you take your medicine.

I've started to have monthly periods and I've heard this will make my seizures worse. Is that true?
There's no way to tell if your seizures will change when you start your period. Usually, there is no change in seizure pattern. However, some girls and women have more seizures just before or at the beginning of their periods. Although we don't completely understand the cause, it seems to be related to hormonal changes. If you notice that your seizures seem worse around the time of your periods, talk to your doctor. It is a good idea to keep a calendar and mark in it when you get your period and when you have your seizures. You should bring this with you when you go to your doctor's visit and show it to the doctor or nurse. 

I'm scared my friends will find out about my seizures, and will make fun of me. What should I do?
It's up to you who you tell about your epilepsy, but it is sometimes hard to keep secrets from your best friends or people you spend a lot of time with. Most of your friends will be all right with it. It may help to talk this over with your parents or another adult you trust and get their help in making the decision.

I have a boyfriend. What if I have a seizure when we are together?
It's normal for you to worry about this. He may be one of the people you tell about your seizure disorder, so there won't be any unexpected surprises. If your boyfriend knows what to expect, he will be able to help and support you if a seizure does occur. Perhaps one of your parents, or a nurse or a doctor can help you explain the facts about seizures to your friends.

My parents worry about me and won't let me do stuff with my friends. How can I get them to let me be more independent?
Your parents love you and just want to keep you from getting hurt. Unfortunately, sometimes it feels like they treat you like a child. It may be helpful to have your nurse or doctor talk to them about letting you do things. You might have to take some extra precautions. Think through the activities you want to do, and be sure you would not be badly hurt if you had a seizure. For example, if you go swimming or diving, you'll want to make sure that someone is with you who knows what to do if you have a seizure. If you are going skiing, you probably want to ride the chair lift with someone who knows what to do. Practice your negotiating skills to find a plan that is comfortable for both you and your parents.


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