Prolactin hormone and Fertility – Levels and Interpretation

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‘Fertility’ – The word still makes a lot of people fumble or turn their heads over. Majority feel shy discussing it, instead finding a solution for potential complications it possess. Hormones act significantly in maintaining the fertility of an individual.

Prolactin is a hormone that plays a role in fertility by obstructing follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH). In females, these hormones trigger ovulation and allow eggs to develop and mature. High prolactin levels inhibit the secretion of FSH, suppressing ovulation in women (decreases chances of pregnancy). Prolactin is known to produce breast milk in lactating mothers. While in men, prolactin affects the production of testosterone and decreases sperm count.

Symptoms of fluctuating prolactin levels
In men

  • Decreased body and facial hair
  • Erectile dysfunction

In women

  • Excessive facial hair growth
  • Milky discharge from breasts during non pregnancy phase
  • Vaginal dryness

Prolactin needs to be assessed, Why?

Prolactin test measures the amount of hormone prolactin present in the blood. The test signifies diagnosis for fertility issues, irregularity in menstruation, breast milk production in non pregnant females etc. In women. While in men, it is useful in assessment of erectile dysfunction (one of the causes of infertility in men)

Know your prolactin hormone levels

The normal values of prolactin in non pregnant women is 5-40 ng/dL which boosts upto 80-400 ng/dL during pregnancy. In males, the hormone levels are less than 20 ng/dL.

High prolactin levels cause tumour growth on pituitary gland. This tumour excretes excess prolactin in the body. In rare cases liver disease, kidney disease, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), hypothyroidism may also cause increase in prolactin levels. Strenuous exercise, lack of sleep, certain types of foods and medications (especially anti-depressants and painkillers) can raise prolactin levels.

Estimation of prolactin levels can help devise treatment methods for fertility issues. The quick fix to the problem could be as simple as stopping a particular prescription drugs which might be part of routine, or could also involve treatment of condition like hypothyroidism. In case of high prolactin levels observed in females, the levels can be brought down with treatment. This will increase their chances of pregnancy.

Talking and discussing with physician more often will help one deal with the problems, in a hope of resolving infertility issues.

Diagnosis is half way to cure!

 

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