The use of hormonal contraception among women taking anticonvulsant therapy

Mary E. Gaffield, Kelly R. Culwell, C. Rhoda Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

65 Scopus citations


Background: Drug interactions between hormonal contraceptives and anticonvulsants, resulting in reduced contraceptive effectiveness and/or increased seizure activity, have been published. Study design: We conducted a systematic review, searching PUBMED and The Cochrane Library for articles in any language on use of hormonal contraceptive methods among women taking anticonvulsant therapy from 1966 through 3 May 2010. Forty-three articles were identified and evaluated. Results: Evidence suggests drug interactions occur when combined oral contraceptives (COCs), the levonorgestrel implant (Norplant), or the etonogestrel implant (Implanon) are used concomitantly with carbamazepine, phenobarbital, phenytoin, topiramate or lamotrigine. Significant drug interactions were not observed during sodium valproate intake and COC use nor among women using progestogen-only contraceptives and taking lamotrigine. Conclusions: To avoid contraceptive failure or increased seizure activity, women with epilepsy should be offered contraceptive methods that do not interact with anticonvulsant medication.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)16-29
Number of pages14
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Anticonvulsants
  • Antiepileptic drugs
  • Contraceptive methods
  • Drug interactions
  • Estrogen
  • Progestogen

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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