What is a Prolactin test? Understanding the role of prolactin in fertility

Prolactin is a hormone that is made in the pituitary gland of the body, which is present just below the brain. It is associated with fertility and the levels of prolactin increase when women are pregnant or have just given birth. It is also the main hormone involved when women need to produce milk after childbirth.

Maintaining adequate levels of prolactin in the body is critical for reproductive health. To test the levels of fertility in women, the prolactin test is prescribed as a preliminary measure of the amount of prolactin in the body. Doctors may also recommend getting test if you are experiencing symptoms of low PRL or are facing difficulties conceiving, along with a complete health check-up.

Key symptoms of prolactin levels issue

Men and women should be mindful of the following symptoms as prolactin levels can impact fertility, sexual performance, and normal reproductive health.

For men -
  • Low libido and sex-drive, coupled with poor performance.
  • Issues with erectile dysfunction, unrelated to sex drive.
  • Tenderness in the breast tissue or enlargement.
  • Headaches, feeling of nausea.
  • Issues with vision. 
    For women -
    • Issues with managing periods.
    • Infertility and problems with getting pregnant.
    • Breast milk production or milky discharge when not nursing or pregnant.
    • Menopause symptoms or issues with vaginal dryness.
    • Long-term tenderness in the breast tissue. 

      What is the relationship between prolactin and fertility?

      Prolactin is produced by the pituitary gland of the brain. Your pituitary gland is key to managing a wide range of functions in the body and is present at the base of the brain. It affects vision, brain, skin, energy, mood, and fertility, for men and women, which is why it needs to be tested when you experience problems with conceiving.

      The hormone also plays a role in fertility by inhibiting follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) which initiate ovulation and enable eggs to develop in the body. Prolactin is also related to the production of breast milk which is key to a child's development post pregnancy.

      Why is the prolactin test performed?

      The hormone prolactin is produced by the pituitary gland and the test is used to determine the levels of prolactin in the blood. If you have any issues of the pituitary gland then they can be discovered using the test. Since the prolactin test measures the amount of the hormone in the blood, it is a good indicator for ruling out any medical reasons behind infertility and low sex-drive.

      • Decreased libido and overall vitality.
      • Infertility
      • Production of breast milk outside of childbirth
      • Signs of pituitary gland tumours which need to be tested for immediately.
      • Erectile dysfunction issue in men.
      • Irregular or no periods also referred to as amenorrhea

        There can also be an issue with Prolactinoma, which is a noncancerous tumour of the pituitary gland. You need to get test immediately if you have a prolactinoma tumour that needs to be treated. 

        How is the prolactin test performed?

        The prolactin test is similar to any blood test that may be performed to check specific levels of identifiers in the body. Blood is drawn from the vein, and the individual must refrain from consuming alcohol for 24 hours prior to sample collection. You should also perform the test a few hours after waking up to get an accurate measure of your prolactin level. If you feel soreness or discomfort after the sample collection, the you should consult with a doctor.

        What are the normal prolactin test levels in the body?

        You should consult with your doctor about the test results of prolactin test. While a prolactin blood test identifies levels compared to normal range, you should still speak to your doctor about the results. Your doctor may prescribe certain medication or treatment protocols.

        The range of values for prolactin levels are:

        Men: less than 20 ng/mL
        Women who are not pregnant: less than 25 ng/mL
        Pregnant women: 80 to 400 ng/mL

        What do abnormal or out of range results for prolactin mean?

        There are several interpretations for out of range prolactin test levels. Those that have high prolactin levels or lower levels may be having them because of a certain medication as well. It is best to consult with a doctor for the test results interpretation, in conjunction with complete medical history.

        Some of the reasons why levels may be out of normal range are -

        • Injuries or irritations prevalent in the body.
        • Disease in the specific area of the body within hypothalamus
        • Thyroid or pituitary gland issues.
        • Kidney disease
        • Disease or abnormal condition of pituitary gland
        • Secondary conditions causing lower levels.
        • Hypothyroidism can cause issues with prolactin.
        • Stress or lifestyle reasons can also impact levels. 

          Where can I buy a prolactin test in India?

          A prolactin test can be easily purchased via MyDiagnostics.in and is available at the price of INR 5999 after discount. The Ultra Woman kit also measures thyroid performance, vitamin/mineral concentration, blood markers, etc. for a complete assessment of overall health. Sexual testing is also a good idea if you want to know more about your sexual health and disease risk.

          Are there any prerequisites to the test?

          The test is recommended for individuals above the age of 30 years, and individuals must not consume alcohol 24 hours before the test. When the needle is inserted into the vein it is important to get a blood sample of high quality as described in the testing kit. You should get your prolactin levels information shared with a doctor after receiving them via email. 

          What is the treatment option for high prolactin levels in the body?

          There are both natural and medication routes to take when treating for elevated prolactin levels in the body. Dopamine agonists or Cabergoline may be prescribed depending on the levels of prolactin in the blood. In terms of lifestyle changes, improving sleep, supplementation, diet, and exercise can radically transform natural levels of prolactin in the body. If your prolactin is still high after these changes then you should talk to your doctor about the right next steps.