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Most of the problems I’ve talked about so far are pretty common. This one is a much rarer one, which I managed to draw from the lottery.
Hyperprolactinaemia. It’s a really big word, but all it means is producing too much of the hormone prolactin. It’s best known for its ability to stimulate breast milk production, and it can also can cause menstrual disturbances. It does other weird and wonderful things to men, but being not-male means that I didn’t go through these.
So, I hadn’t been breast-feeding for years, when all of a sudden I was spilling breast milk everywhere, and my periods gave up on me. Panicpanicpanic I can’t be pregnant, can I? I can’t deal with that right now! But the pregnancy test comes back negative. Confusion sets in.
It turned out that the risperadone I was on was causing me to overproduce prolactin, and the whole constellation of problems was linked to that. I didn’t know it was even possible for this to happen, and it’s not information that I was given at the time.
This was a few years ago now, and thankfully this time I started on a risperadone trial, my doctor added aripiprazole to the mix to counteract that problem. But at the time, I was a frightened teenager wondering what the hell was happening to my body. And being a frightened teen, I REALLY didn’t want to discuss it with my GP, but I had to. It was humiliating – most of all because I didn’t have any knowledge of what on earth could be causing it. It was an episode that was characterised by fear and embarrassment.
It didn’t have to be. I could have been given some info about the drug. Rare side effects are just that, rare, but they’re usually the most frightening and should be pointed out to you at some point before you take a medication.