Prolactin Levels Test For Pregnancy – Causes, Symptoms, And Treatment

7 min read

Written by Aparna Hari

Aparna Hari

Her experience in impactful writing combined with her background in Home Sciences makes Aparna the perfect candidate for content writing in the pregnancy and parenting niche.

Prolactin Levels Test for Pregnancy

Prolactin levels test for pregnancy is one of the standard tests taken for women both during and after pregnancy. The prolactin levels play a vital role in the fertility of women. But we need to understand what Prolactin is and how we can maintain our prolactin levels during and after pregnancy.

Prolactin is a hormone produced by the pituitary glands. The levels of this hormone in your blood will increase during pregnancy and for some period post-delivery. In non-pregnant women, this hormone stays at a normal level. The key role of this hormone is to help the growth of breasts and the production of milk both during and post-pregnancy.

In This Article

What is Prolactin?

The pituitary gland produces a hormone called “Prolactin” that sits at the bottom of the brain. These hormones are solely responsible for breast growth and milk production post-delivery, and the hormones instruct the body to produce milk for pregnant and breastfeeding women.

The other hormones, including dopamine, have control over the production of Prolactin. These additional hormones are also known as “Prolactin Inhibiting Factors.” During pregnancy, the prolactin levels are usually high, which aids in producing more milk for breastfeeding.

Both men and women have prolactin hormones, and it helps in the regular menstrual cycle for women who are not pregnant, and for men, Prolactin helps in sperm production.

Why Are Prolactin Tests Conducted?

The prolactin tests (PRT) help determine the levels of prolactin hormones in your body. The prolactin levels are usually high during pregnancy and breastfeeding. But there may be chances where the prolactin levels are high for women who are not pregnant and even for men. Doctors will recommend PRTs in the following situations

Prolactin Tests For Women

Women facing the following conditions may need to undergo prolactin tests.

  • Infertility
  • Irregular periods
  • Breast tenderness
  • Lactating without being pregnant
  • Vision changes
  • Headache
  • Nipple Discharge

Prolactin Tests For Men

Doctors may recommend prolactin tests to men undergoing the following conditions

  • Lack of Sex Drive
  • Problems with erection
  • Lack of facial and body hair

What Are The Symptoms of High Prolactin Levels?

The presence of high prolactin levels is also known as “hyperprolactinemia”. The most common symptoms of this condition include

1. Irregular Periods

Up to one-third of women in the late 20s to Mid 30s have normal ovaries but experience irregular periods because of high prolactin levels.

2. Irregular Ovulation

The high prolactin levels may also interfere in the production of other hormones, including estrogen and progesterone. This may lead to disruption in ovulation irregular and missed periods. Some women may not have any symptoms of high prolactin levels.

3. Infertility

Problems with menstrual cycles and irregular ovulation lead to difficulty in conceiving or inferility.

4. Galactorrhea

When the prolactin levels are high, there may be problems with getting pregnant, and women may lactate without getting pregnant. This condition is also known as galactorrhea. More than 90 percent of women who have galactorrhea also have hyperprolactinemia.

5. Additional Symptoms

Other symptoms of excess levels of prolactin in women can include

  • Vaginal dryness
  • Loss of interest in sex
  • Excess hair growth on the body

All these symptoms occur due to the hormonal imbalances that happen due to high prolactin levels.

Normal Prolactin Levels For Getting Pregnant

Pregnant women, and those who are not pregnant need to maintain normal prolactin levels within their respective recommended ranges.

  • The normal prolactin levels should be between 2 and 29 ng per ml to get pregnant.
  • For pregnant women, the average levels should be between 80 and 400 ng per ml.

Is it Possible to Get Pregnant With Low Prolactin Levels?

The low prolactin levels are commonly referred to as “hypoprolactinemia.” This is often associated with ovarian dysfunction leading to inadequate egg release in the ovaries and lower sex drive.

If your prolactin levels are low, it means your pituitary glands are not functioning in full swing. It is not proven that you cannot get pregnant with low prolactin levels, and many women get pregnant even with lower prolactin levels. But, this may hinder your chances of pregnancy. Get yourself tested and discuss what you can do about it with your doctor.

Sometimes, consumption of certain drugs can cause lower prolactin levels, including Dopamin, Levodopa, and Ergot alkaloid derivatives.

Is it Possible to Get Pregnant With High Prolactin Levels?

No. You cannot get pregnant with high prolactin levels. But, just because your prolactin levels are high, it does not mean that you have a problem. Your levels might increase if you take the test on empty stomach or under stress during the test.

High prolactin levels can prevent the ovaries from producing estrogen, if not under any other rare circumstances. This may also hinder you from getting pregnant.

What Are Causes of High Prolactin Levels?

There are many reasons you might have high prolactin levels, including the following.

  • Pituitary tumors
  • Hypothyroid
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
  • Kidney Disease
  • Liver disease
  • Anorexia nervosa

How Are High Prolactin Levels Diagnosed?

Doctors conduct two significant tests to diagnose high prolactin levels in the blood. They include

1. Blood Test

The doctors may collect a sample of your blood to determine the prolactin levels in your blood, which is the most prevalent method to determine the levels of Prolactin. If your levels are diagnosed as too high, your doctor might suggest you take up an imaging test.

2. Imaging Test

MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) is the most preferred method of imaging which creates in-depth detailed images of all the internal organs and tissues without X-rays but using magnets and radio waves.

If MRI is not suitable for you, for example, if you have an implant with a metal or a pacemaker, your doctor may advise you to do a computed tomography (CT) scan. The CT scan results provide the doctors with confirmation of prolactin levels.

Treatment Options For High Prolactin Levels

The medical treatment given to stabilize the prolactin levels includes medications, surgery, and radiation. The main aim of the treatment is to

  • Stabilize the prolactin levels
  • Reduce the tumor
  • Ensure proper functioning of pituitary glands
  • Address all other problems, including menstrual problems, headache or, visual impact.
  • The two primary treatments for high prolactin levels are Medications and Surgery.

1. Medications To Treat High Prolactin

The goal of the medications is to stabilise the prolactin levels and provide relief from symptoms. You may need to use the medications for the long term to achieve both goals. The medicines suggested by doctors primarily include synthetic dopamine. This drug works in the same way as dopamine, a chemical secreted by the brain to controls the production of Prolactin in the body.

The other drugs suggested by doctors include bromocriptine and cabergoline. These drugs help in reducing the prolactin levels by shrinking the tumor.

a. Prolactin Medications For Conception and During Pregnancy

For women who need to restore or develop fertility, doctors routinely prescribe drugs such as Bromocripline which includes Cycloset and Parlodel. But, the moment you get pregnant,you must stop these medications

While the drug is considered safe during the early pregnancy, safety during the entire pregnancy period is not known.

But, if you develop a large prolactinoma or have symptoms including vision changes and headaches, your doctor might suggest certain drugs during pregnancy.

b. Side Effects of Prolactin Medications

In simple words, follow your doctor’s recommendations if you plan to start a family during your treatment for Prolactinoma.

While medications are most effective and very common, they also come with various side effects. The most common side effects of the medications include

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Nasal Stuffiness
  • Headache
  • Drowsiness

These side effects will not affect you much if you begin with a lower dosage and gradually increase.

In certain rare instances, cabergoline can cause heart valve damage.

If medications help you shrink the tumor significantly, the doctors might check if your prolactin levels are normal for at least two years.

If yes, you may get rid of the medications with the doctor’s guidance. But do remember that recurrence is widespread. So, you must have constant consultations and medications.

2. Surgery For High Prolactin

For those who develop tumors, the doctors will suggest surgery to remove them when medications don’t work. Surgery helps relax the pressure on the nerves controlling your vision.

Based on your tumor size and the extent, the doctors will choose either a nasal or a transcranial surgery.

a. Nasal Surgery

In nasal surgery, also known as transsphenoidal surgery, the tumor is removed from the nasal cavity. The best part about nasal surgery is that there are no visible scars and the procedure is relatively safe.

b. Transcranial Surgery

In this type of surgery, the surgeon removes the tumor through the upper part of the skull.  Doctors recommend this surgery for cases where the tumor size is relatively big. This procedure is also known as Craniotomy.

If medications do not help you but do not require surgery, the doctors might suggest you take up radiation.

How to Lower Prolactin Levels to Get Pregnant Naturally?

While options such as medications, surgery, and radiation help lower prolactin levels, you can also follow certain tips to naturally lower them.

1. Regulate Your Blood Sugar Levels

Balancing your blood sugar levels is the most effective way to reduce prolactin levels. Glucose insensitivity might lead to high prolactin levels, and this is because of high fatty acids, complications in insulin binding, and reduced insulin receptors.

2. Use Vitex

Vitex is a plant common to the Mediterranean and Western Asia. It is frequently used to treat several symptoms, including PMS. Chaste tree, Monk’s pepper, and Chaste berry are the other common names used for vitex.

The Essential oils and flavonoids of the plant give it the medicinal component. The dopaminergic effect that the plant provides is the primary reason why vitex is considered one of the best ways to lower prolactin levels.

Vitex also helps reduce the secretion of Prolactin, which also helps decrease PMS symptoms.

3. Avoid Beer And Barley

Beer and Barley contain high levels of gluten. In general, alcohol increases prolactin levels. If you can avoid beer and Barley from your lifestyle, especially if you are gluten sensitive, then you are at a stage where you can reduce the prolactin levels naturally.

4. Exercise

Stress plays a significant role in increasing your prolactin levels. You can start doing basic exercises and meditation to help you relax and get your body into gear. Both of these will help you reduce your prolactin levels naturally.

5. Monitor Your Thyroid Levels.

Thyroidim, especially hypothyroidism, where the thyroid levels are low in your body, can result in high prolactin levels in your body. If you have thyroid issues or suspect you have them, see an endocrinologist and ensure that the levels get normal. This will also help reduce your prolactin levels.

Prolactin levels test for pregnancy is an important test that indicates prolactin levels. If your test suggests high prolactin levels, your doctor may refer you to an endocrinologist who can assist you through the treatment process. While high prolactin levels are common during pregnancy and breastfeeding, it is not so in the case of women who are not pregnant. If you have any symptoms, reach out to your doctor as soon as possible, especially if you are planning pregnancy.

FAQ’s

1. What Are The Symptoms of High Prolactin Levels?

The symptoms of high prolactin levels can be any of the following,

  • Infertility
  • Breastmilk leakage
  • Irregular or no periods
  • Loss of Interest in Sex
  • Excess body and facial hair

2. What is The Treatment For High Prolactin Levels?

Medications are the first line of treatment for high prolactin levels. Along with that, your doctor may also recommend surgery depending on your condition.

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Aparna Hari,MBA in Marketing,P.G. Diploma in Human Resource Management from IGNOU Bachelor of Sciences (Home Science) from Nagarjuna University

Her experience in impactful writing combined with her background in Home Sciences makes Aparna the perfect candidate for content writing in the pregnancy and parenting niche.Read more.

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