The Pros and Cons of Prolactin

TELL COVER STORY

TELL COVER STORY

Many young women, as they grow older, would admit to, occasionally, seeing fluid sprinkle out of their breast.

This leaves many girls or women wondering what the matter is considering that they are neither pregnant nor nursing a baby.

The development, however, is due to a high level prolactin in the body. Prolactin also called PRL or lactogenic hormone is a hormone produced by the pituitary gland in the brain.

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It plays an important role in the reproductive health of both women and men. Its main role is to stimulate the production of milk in women after childbirth. In other words, prolactin triggers lactation.

The main function of prolactin in men is not well known, but levels of prolactin have been found to be a measure of sexual satisfaction in both men and women.

Research show that some medicines can cause prolactin levels to rise. Apart from medicine, tumors of the pituitary gland can also provoke prolactin. A damaged pituitary gland may not be able to account for normal amounts of prolactin so levels will be lower.

In healthy individuals who are neither pregnant nor breastfeeding new born babies, the concentrations of this hormone should be low, as the body suppresses prolactin production, while during pregnancy and breastfeeding, levels start to rise, triggering lactation and maintaining a steady supply of milk.

Most high prolactin levels can be associated with organ damage and infertility. Therefore, if a hormone test identifies an unusually high concentration of this hormone, it is important to find out why and to seek appropriate treatment. Usually an endocrinologist is involved in the diagnosis and treatment of patients with high prolactin, but treatment may also require input from gynecologists, fertility specialists, and other medical providers.

Prolactin levels are however not constant. The highest levels occur during sleep and shortly after  waking  up. Prolactin levels also get higher during times of physical or emotional stress.

Medical experts advise that, if a woman is having abnormal discharge or irregular period (amenorrhea), or is having difficulty getting pregnant,  she should  run a medical test to ascertain her level of  prolactin.

In a man, when a pituitary gland problem is suspected, a prolactin test may be done to check levels. Also if a man lacks sexual desire or if he has trouble getting an erection, it’s important to check his prolactin levels…

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