What is prolactin and what is it used for?
Prolactin (PRL) is a hormone produced by the pituitary gland that plays a role in milk production, fertility, and other physiological processes. It is primarily used to help diagnose and monitor conditions such as pituitary gland disorders, hypothalamic disorders, and certain types of breast cancer.
How is prolactin measured?
Prolactin is typically measured through a blood test. A healthcare provider will take a sample of the patient's blood and send it to a laboratory for analysis. The laboratory will use a specific assay to measure the amount of prolactin in the sample.
What is a normal range for prolactin levels?
The normal range for prolactin levels can vary depending on the specific assay used and the laboratory that performs the test. In general, normal prolactin levels for women are between 4 and 23 ng/mL, and normal levels for men are between 2 and 18 ng/mL. However, it is important to note that these ranges may vary slightly depending on the specific assay and laboratory.
What can cause abnormal prolactin levels?
There are many factors that can cause abnormal prolactin levels, including certain medications, pituitary gland disorders, hypothalamic disorders, and breast cancer. Other potential causes of abnormal prolactin levels include stress, alcohol consumption, and certain types of drugs.
How is an abnormal prolactin level treated?
The treatment for an abnormal prolactin level will depend on the underlying cause. If the abnormal prolactin level is caused by a medication, the healthcare provider may recommend switching to a different medication. If the cause is a pituitary gland disorder, the provider may recommend medication or surgery to correct the issue. If the cause is breast cancer, the provider may recommend treatment options such as surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation.
Can high prolactin levels affect fertility?
Yes, high prolactin levels can affect fertility in both men and women. In women, high prolactin levels can interfere with ovulation and cause irregular periods. In men, high prolactin levels can cause decreased libido and erectile dysfunction.
Can low prolactin levels affect fertility?
Low prolactin levels are not typically associated with fertility issues, although there is some evidence that low prolactin levels may be linked to an increased risk of preterm birth in pregnant women.
How often should prolactin levels be tested?
The frequency of prolactin testing will depend on the individual's specific situation and the recommendations of their healthcare provider. Some people may need to have their prolactin levels tested periodically as part of their ongoing treatment, while others may only need to have the test done once.
Prolactin (Prolactinum). (2021). Mayo Clinic. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/prolactin/about/pac-20394007
Prolactin Test. (2021). Lab Tests Online. Retrieved from https://labtestsonline.org/tests/prolactin-test
Prolactin Test: What You Need to Know. (2021). WebMD. Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/prolactin-test#1