What you should know about Prolactin test

Prolactin test - Healthians
Contributed by – Rachana Arya

What is the prolactin test?

Prolactin is a hormone secreted by the pituitary gland present in the brain. It is also known as the PRL or the lactogenic hormone. The main use of prolactin hormone is to help women produce milk after childbirth. It plays a vital role in both male as well as female reproductive health. The exact purpose of prolactin in men is not well-known. However, prolactin levels have been used to measure sexual satisfaction in both men as well as women. A prolactin level test can also reveal other ailments caused by the hormone.


Who should get the test done?

Prolactin hormone directs the body to make breast milk during pregnancy or breast-feeding. An individual’s fertility can be impacted by the amount of prolactin present in the blood. Those who are neither pregnant nor breast-feeding have low levels of prolactin in the body.

A doctor may recommend a prolactin level test if someone:

  • Produces breast milk without pregnancy or breast-feeding
  • Has signs of a growth in the pituitary gland called prolactinoma
  • Has another pituitary ailment
  • Experiences infertility or irregular periods
  • Suffers from a medical condition that affects dopamine production


Why is the test needed?

Women with prolactinoma signs might need the test. Prolactinoma is a noncancerous tumor present in the pituitary gland that produces high levels of prolactin hormone.

Signs of prolactinoma in females are:

  • Inexplicable headaches
  • Visual impairment
  • Galactorrhea or lactation without childbirth or nursing
  • Pain or discomfort during sex
  • Abnormal growth of body and facial hair
  • Abnormal acne

The test is done on people with prolactinoma to keep a track on the tumor’s response to treatment. Apart from this, the prolactin test might be required in case of fertility issues or irregular menstruation. The test can also indicate other problems related to pituitary gland or hypothalamus.

Signs of prolactinoma in males are:

  • Inexplicable headaches
  • Visual impairment
  • Reduced sex drive or fertility problems
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Absence of body and facial hair
  • Testicular dysfunction or erectile dysfunction
  • Ailments related to the pituitary gland or hypothalamus


What does the test result mean?

Normal levels of prolactin hormone are:

  • Females: less than 25 ng/mL
  • Males: less than 17 ng/mL

Generally, it is not obligatory to treat low levels of prolactin. In case of higher than normal prolactin levels, a person could be suffering from one of the following conditions:

  • Prolactinoma
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
  • Kidney disease
  • Anorexia nervosa
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Liver disease

In case of high prolactin levels, the doctor might prescribe an MRI i.e. magnetic resonance imaging test to closely look at the pituitary gland. Increased prolactin levels may be treated with medicine or surgery.


How is the test done?

A prolactin test is similar to a blood test. The test only takes a few minutes. It is either conducted at a clinic or in a lab. No preparations are needed for it.  The sample is normally collected three to four hours after the person wakes up in the morning. Blood is drawn from the vein of the arm. There’s very little pain. You might only feel a slight pinch when the needle goes in and some mild soreness afterwards.


Take the prolactin test now  

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