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Exacerbation of myasthenia gravis during the menstrual period

Journal of the Neurological Sciences
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/s0022-510x(98)00031-8
  • Myasthenia Gravis
  • Menstrual Period
  • Estradiol
  • Sex Hormones
  • Oral Contraceptives
  • Exacerbation
  • Medicine


Abstract Background: Myasthenia gravis (MG) is an autoimmune disorder mediated by antiacetylcholine receptor antibodies. It has long been suspected to exacerbate during the menstrual period but this has never been adequately documented. Subjects and methods: We questioned 120 female myasthenic patients of different ages, about their myasthenic symptoms before and during the menstrual period. We also evaluated the effect of medications, pain and stress during or before the menstrual period on the exacerbation rate. Exclusion criteria were postmenopausal age and incomplete information available in the questionnaire. Results: Forty two premenopausal women with generalized disease were included in the study. Twenty eight (67%) of the patients reported exacerbation of their myasthenic symptoms 2 to 3 days prior to the menstrual period. This exacerbation persisted in 22 of them to the third day of the menstrual period. In nine of the women this clinical worsening necessitated an increased intake of medications during the days prior to menstruation. No correlation could be found between the presence of antiacetylcholine receptor antibodies, pain, stress, use of oral contraceptives or the type of antimyasthenic therapy and the rate of exacerbation before and during the menstrual period. Conclusions: (1) MG frequently exacerbates before and during the menstrual period in 67% of MG patients. (2) The rate of exacerbation is unrelated to the presence of stress or pain prior to or during the menstrual period. (3) Different therapies directed against MG, as well as oral contraceptives do not influence the clinical course. (4) Menstrual exacerbations occur in both seronegative and seropositive patients. (5) These exacerbations may frequently necessitate therapeutic changes.

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