Antipsychotics - Other considerations
What else should I consider before taking antipsychotics?
Sexual problems have been reported as a side effect of all antipsychotics. Evidence shows that many people taking antipsychotics experience sexual problems. But some antipsychotics have less sexual side effects than others.
Some antipsychotics can cause a hormone called ‘prolactin’ in your body to increase. This seems to be why antipsychotics can cause sexual side effects. Higher levels of prolactin can cause:
- periods to stop,
- a lack of sex drive,
- breast enlargement in both men and women,
- problems getting aroused, and
- erection and ejaculation problems for men.
If you are experiencing any of these problems you should contact your doctor. They may reduce the dose or stop the medication. If you are advised to stay on it, you might be able to take medications to help with these problems.
Taking antipsychotics during pregnancy may have certain risks. It is thought that there may be a small risk of complications if you take antipsychotic drugs during pregnancy. Overall, the research is not clear whether first generation or second generation drugs will affect your unborn child.
If you are pregnant or plan on getting pregnant, you should speak to your doctor. If possible, it is best to tell your doctor before you become pregnant so that there is time to plan a change in your medication.
If you have had relapses in the past your doctor might suggest that you stay on your medication during and after pregnancy. This could reduce your baby’s exposure to the drug, because if you did relapse you would need a much higher dose.
If you are breast feeding and taking antipsychotics, some antipsychotics could be passed to your child in your breast milk. Many drug manufacturers advise that you should stop breastfeeding while taking an antipsychotic. There is evidence that the presence of some antipsychotics such as clozapine and olazapine in breast milk can cause harmful effects. You should be monitored regularly and should stop breastfeeding if harmful effects are suspected.
Speak to your doctor about the risks of medication while pregnant or breastfeeding. You could also discuss this with your midwife or health visitor.
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