Overview of Prolactin
What is Prolactin?
Preparation for Prolactin
- Blood sample should be collected 4 hours after waking.
Why Get Tested for Prolactin?
To investigate the cause of abnormal breast milk discharge (galactorrhea), menstrual irregularities or infertility in non-pregnant women
To evaluate the role of prolactin in case of lactation failure in women after childbirth
To investigate the cause of erection problems, testicular failure or abnormal breast discharge in men
To investigate the cause of loss of sex drive (libido) in both men and women
To detect and monitor the progress of prolactinoma (tumor of the pituitary gland that causes high levels of prolactin) in both men and women
Understand more about Prolactin
The prolactin hormone is produced by the pituitary gland which is located at the base of the brain. The primary function of this hormone is to help in lactation i.e. production of milk after childbirth. Prolactin levels are usually high during pregnancy and after childbirth. During pregnancy, this hormone along with other hormones like estrogen and progesterone stimulates the breasts for milk production. After the childbirth, it helps to maintain the breast milk production. Suckling of the breasts by the baby is important for the release of prolactin hormone. If a woman stops breastfeeding, the level of prolactin hormone will return to normal.
Abnormally high levels of prolactin are seen in certain disease conditions like prolactinoma (non-cancerous tumor of the pituitary gland) in men and women. It is generally benign (non-cancerous) in nature and is seen more commonly in women. If the tumor is quite large, it can put pressure on the optic nerve and the patient may present with headache and visual disturbances.
What Results of Prolactin mean?
High levels of prolactin can be seen in:
Tumors of the pituitary gland that produces and release prolactin (Prolactinoma)
Diseases of the hypothalamus (a gland located in the brain)
Polycystic ovary disease (PCOD)
Conditions like anorexia nervosa (eating disorder)
Low levels of prolactin can be seen in:
Patients taking bromocriptine
Pituitary deficiency like necrosis or infarction of the pituitary gland
Patient Concerns about Prolactin
Frequently Asked Questions about Prolactin