Women with epilepsy initiating a progestin IUD: A prospective pilot study of safety and acceptability



Effective contraception enables women with epilepsy (WWE) to plan their pregnancies and improve outcomes for themselves and their children. Although popular among all women, complex drug interactions limit the efficacy and safety of oral contraceptives (OCs) for WWE. We sought to explore the safety, acceptability, and pharmacokinetic impact of a progestin-containing intrauterine device (IUD) in WWE.


We enrolled 20 women with well-controlled epilepsy and a stable antiepileptic drug (AED) regimen and who were initiating a progestin-containing IUD (levonorgestrel 52 mg) in a prospective, observational study. For each AED, we compared the trough concentration before IUD insertion to the trough concentration 3 weeks, and 3 and 6 months later. Participants recorded seizures in a daily paper diary. We compared seizures that occurred during the month before IUD insertion to those occurring in the 6 months thereafter. Participants completed an acceptability questionnaire at 3 and 6 months.


Participants’ average age was 28 years; 60% were nulligravid. They reported a history of multiple seizure types. During the baseline month, 75% were seizure-free and the remainder reported between one and three seizures. Fourteen received monotherapy and six received polytherapy. Lamotrigine use was most common (n = 12). AED trough concentrations remained stable during the 6 months after IUD insertion, without clinically meaningful deviations from baseline. Diary data showed that seizure frequency worsened in 3, and remained unchanged in 13 and improved in 4 after IUD insertion. Subjectively, no participant believed the IUD worsened her seizure control. All participants were either somewhat or very satisfied with the IUD throughout the study. All participants continued the IUD use at 6 months. No pregnancies occurred.


This pilot study suggests that the progestin-containing IUD is a safe and acceptable long-acting contraceptive for WWE.