Epilepsy is an extraordinarily common but highly misunderstood neurological disorder, at least in the popular imagination: it can cause unpredictable seizures & other health issues, and is the fourth-most common neurological condition in the U.S., according to the Epilepsy Foundation. It turns out that there are a number of aspects of epilepsy that are influenced by gender, from the seizures themselves to disorders that occur alongside epilepsy. Though according to Medscape, more men than women are diagnosed with epilepsy, women have a vastly different experience with epilepsy than men do because of the menstrual cycle, of all things: female sex hormones affect epilepsy in some very strange ways.
Epilepsy is characterized by seizures, which occur when there's a significant "disruption in the electric communications between neurons" in the brain, in the words of the Epilepsy Foundation. Precisely what causes epilepsy is rather varied, though genetics and some environmental factors, including trauma, can play a part. There isn't such thing as a one-size-fits-all epilepsy diagnosis — there are many types of epilepsy and seizure. However, the elements that need to be highlighted to women in particular are indeed gender specific. Between 2.2 and 3 million people in the U.S. have an epilepsy diagnosis, and it's thought to affect one in every 26 people. Chances are, you know or will know someone with epilepsy in your life, and this sort of info may help you to understand their diagnosis.