HeadMeds gives young people in the United Kingdom general information about medication. HeadMeds does not give you medical advice. Please talk to your Doctor or anyone else who is supporting you about your own situation because everyone is different. Please read more important details about our site.

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Return to Chlorpromazine overview
  1. Use and Action
  2. Warnings and side effects
  3. Sex, drink, weight and everything else
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Taking Olanzapine and Sertraline: Elizabeth's story
After a couple of weeks my sleeping patterns regulated to how they had been before I began the medication

Be very careful drinking alcohol while taking chlorpromazine

  • In the early stages taking alcohol and chlorpromazine together will make you extremely sleepy. Alcohol should be avoided.
  • Once your body has got more used to the chlorpromazine you should drink only small amounts of alcohol while taking chlorpromazine.
  • If you want to drink alcohol, do not drive, be aware that you will want to sleep, and make sure you can get home safely.

Do not drive a car or ride a bike just after you start taking chlorpromazine

  • Taking chlorpromazine may make you feel very tired and less alert, and may affect your eyesight, when you start taking it.
  • This could affect you if you drive a car, ride a bike, or do anything else that needs a lot of focus. It might be best to stop doing these things for the first few days, until you know how it affects you.
  • Do not worry - most people drive as normal once they are settled on chlorpromazine.

Try not to take chlorpromazine for the first time just before your exams

  • Chlorpromazine could make you feel very tired, make you feel less alert, and affect your eyesight.
  • You should talk to your doctor about any future exams if you are starting chlorpromazine.
  • You might decide together to delay starting it until you have done them.
  • If they are more than a week away, however, you might find that it is better to start chlorpromazine to improve your motivation to study.
  • Do not worry - most people do exams as normal while taking chlorpromazine.

Chlorpromazine is not a banned substance in sport

  • Chlorpromazine is not a banned substance in sport.
  • Taking chlorpromazine may make you feel tired and less alert, and affect your eyesight.
  • This could be dangerous in some sports like riding a bike, gymnastics or driving.
  • It might be best to stop such sports for the first few days, until you know how it affects you.
  • Do not worry - most people do sports as normal while taking chlorpromazine.

Your weight can be affected by chlorpromazine

  • A side-effect of chlorpromazine can be weight gain.
  • It is very difficult to know how it will affect each person who takes it.
  • Your doctor should weigh you regularly whilst you are taking chlorpromazine.
  • Young people will be gaining some weight each year as they grow, but anything more than that should be watched.
  • Good practice for doctors suggests there should be routine checking of weight for people who start taking antipsychotic medicines like chlorpromazine:
    • Get your weight noted when you start
    • Get your weight checked every week for the first 3 months
    • Get your weight and waist measurement checked at least every 6 months
  • You could do these measurements yourself, and keep a chart to show your doctor.
  • If you put on weight, there are other antipsychotic medicines you can try, and ways to try and lose it again
  • Talk to your doctor about this if it worries you.

Your skin colour can be affected by chlorpromazine if you use it for a long time

  • If you are taking chlorpromazine for a long period of time, it can increase the amount of melanin in your skin (melanin is the pigment that makes your skin brown when it has a sun tan).
  • This might, over a long time, give your skin a blue-grey tint.
  • Melanin can also build up in your eyes. Sight should not be affected.
  • Talk to your doctor about this if it is a problem for you.

Chlorpromazine can affect your sleep

  • Chlorpromazine can make you feel very sleepy or give you nightmares.
  • See how it affects you for the first few days of taking it
  • Go back to your doctor if this causes a big problem for you.

Chlorpromazine will make your skin burn more easily in the sun

  • Chlorpromazine can make your skin burn more easily in the sun.
  • You can get rashes or other skin reactions from too much UV light.
  • You should not go on tanning beds, but you could have a spray tan.
  • If you are on holiday, put on plenty of high-factor sunscreen and cover up whenever possible.
  • You should also be careful at home on bright, sunny days - that may be enough to cause the reaction.

Let your family and friends know you are taking chlorpromazine so they can support you and help you look out for side effects

  • The side-effects of chlorpromazine might put a strain on your friendships and relationships, especially in the first few days of taking it.
  • You might feel agitated and have sleep problems.
  • These side-effects should get better after a few days.
  • You should then be getting the good effects of chlorpromazine, and that should improve your relationships in itself.
  • It might actually be a great idea to choose a good friend to tell about your medicine when you start taking it. (Or - even better - to take a friend with you to the doctor before you start taking any medicine!)
  • They could look at the medicine leaflet, or at this website.
  • They could help you to understand whether the medicine changes your behaviour, or gives you side-effects (sometimes it is hard for us to see it ourselves).

Chlorpromazine can cause side effects that affect your sex life

The good effects of chlorpromazine may have a good effect on your sex life as your symptoms settle and you can concentrate on your relationships. There are side-effects, however, that may also affect it.

  • In men, an erection that is painful and lasts for a long time (priapism) can happen when taking chlorpromazine.
  • If it happens, you must go to a doctor straight away.
  • Women can have light periods, or no periods at all.
  • Men and women can get some growth of the breasts, and some milk flow.
  • Men and women can find it harder to come (orgasm).
  • Men may find they come, but do not ejaculate (sperm does not come out).

Chlorpromazine can affect fertility

  • Chlorpromazine increases the amount of the hormone prolactin in the body.
  • Prolactin is the hormone released by breastfeeding that may have a contraceptive effect - that is, it may be harder to get pregnant.

Talk to your doctor if you are on chlorpromazine and trying to become pregnant

  • If you are planning to become pregnant, or become pregnant, you should talk to your doctor about the right medicine choice for you.

Use good contraception while you are taking chlorpromazine

  • If you are not planning to become pregnant, then you should still use good contraception.
  • Chlorpromazine has been used in humans for a long time during pregnancy with no signs of increased risks.

Chlorpromazine can cause side-effects in newborn babies

  • If you decide to carry on taking chlorpromazine through your pregnancy, you should talk to your doctor and midwife about it before the birth.
  • With chlorpromazine expect to be prescribed folic acid
  • Also you may be checked for any increased risk of blood clots and if needed prescribed a course of blood thinning injections (known as a low molecular weight heparin)
  • This is standard practice
  • Remember, babies do better with well mums
  • Women taking more than 500mg a day of chlorpromazine can have a longer labour than normal.
  • If you take chlorpromazine in the last part of pregnancy, the baby can have withdrawal symptoms:
    • The baby could be very sleepy, or very excited;
    • They could shake and have stiff or weak muscles;
    • They might have difficulty feeding and breathing.
    • You will need help from the midwife and doctors, so it is better if they are looking out for these side-effects.

Chlorpromazine is passed to babies in breast milk

  • Chlorpromazine is passed to the baby in breastmilk but only in small amounts.
  • Talk to your midwife about the best feeding options for you.
  • Breastfeeding might offset some of the withdrawal effects in your baby.

If you start or stop smoking while you are taking chlorpromazine, you may have to change your dose

  • Cigarette smoke affects the amount of chlorpromazine in your body.
  • If you smoke, you will probably need a higher dose of chlorpromazine than someone who does not smoke.
  • Tell your doctor if you smoke, so that you get the right dose for you.
  • If you stop smoking, the body chlorpromazine level rises and you might need to reduce your dose of chlorpromazine slowly.
  • If you (re)start smoking, you will probably need to increase it again.
  • Go to your doctor for advice if you stop or start smoking.
  • It is the smoke, rather than nicotine, that has this effect so it should not be a problem if you only vape.