What is Prolactin?
Prolactin is as known as lactotropin and PRL, it is a hormone released from the pituitary gland that stimulates the production of breast milk. Prolactin levels increase during pregnancy and after childbirth, so women can breastfeed their children.
Hyperprolactinemia (High prolactin) occurs when the amount of prolactin in a woman’s blood is higher than the normal limit. It is normal to have a high amount of prolactin during pregnancy, if prolactin levels increases without pregnancy, it may become an issue if not well monitored. When this happens a woman who is not pregnant or breastfeeding a child will begin to produce breast milk (Galactorrhea).
A non-cancerous tumor may cause the pituitary gland to make too much prolactin when there is no pregnancy, this condition is called prolactinoma. Other factors like hypothyroidism and kidney disease can also cause Hyperprolactinemia.
Any woman who experiences this may find it difficult to conceive. Hyperprolactinemia greatly affects other hormones, such as estrogen and progesterone. It may cause a change in your ovulation or stop your ovulation (the release of an egg from the ovary). It may also lead to irregular or skipped periods.
Experts use certain medications to balance prolactin levels and shrink the tumor. Sometimes, your doctor will recommend surgery for the tumor. If you don’t treat the tumor in your pituitary gland, it can result in some damage.
Causes Of Hyperprolactinemia.
- Tumor in the Pituitary gland (prolactinoma).
- Underactive thyroid gland (hypothyroidism).
- Certain medications like Antidepressants and others.
- kidney disease.
- A disease of the hypothalamus.
- Irritation (for example, scars, shingles, or even a bra that’s too tight)
Some women may have Hyperprolactinemia without experiencing any symptoms. These are the common symptoms women experience:
- Menopausal symptoms.
- Breast milk discharge when you are not pregnant or breastfeeding a child.
- Irregular or skipped period.
- Vagina dryness.
- Excessive body hair.
- Low libido.
- Blood Test: your doctor will measure the level of prolactin in your blood. The result can range from slightly elevated to a thousand times the upper limit of normal.
- Imaging Test: Your doctor will carry out an imaging test after the blood test, to see if there is a tumor in the pituitary gland. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is used for this.
- Vision Test: Your doctor can decide to check if the tumor affects your vision.
Doctors manage Hyperprolactinemia through the following ways:
- Medication: Dopamine agonist is used in treating patients with prolactinoma, the aim is to shrink tumors. Doctors use cabergoline and bromocriptine to reduce the prolactin levels as well.
- Watchful Waiting: If you have small prolactinoma or the doctor can’t find the reason behind the increase in your prolactin levels. Your doctor may recommend no treatment, he will observe the tumor closely before he decides on the next course of action.
- No Treatment: If your doctor can’t find the cause of hyperprolactinemia in your body, If you still produce estrogen and the tumor in the pituitary gland is small, your doctor may not recommend treatment.
- Surgery: if the tumor in the pituitary gland is too large, your doctor may recommend surgery.