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Prolactin Levels in Women

Prolactin Levels in Women

Prolactin is the hormone that is released by the region situated below the brain. This region is termed the pituitary gland. This article discusses the prolactin level deemed normal in women.
Azmin Taraporewala
Last Updated: Feb 8, 2018
Prolactin -- also referred to as luteotropic hormones -- is a member of a specific class of hormones called the peptide hormones. This hormone is secreted by the pituitary gland. This gland is the size of a pea and is located below the brain. The dominant function of prolactin hormone is to facilitate the process of lactation, i.e., production of breast milk. Prolactin is also responsible to enlarge the size of the mammary glands, thereby allowing her to prepare for breastfeeding. Prolactin is found and produced in women and men, and the hormone is released at intervals throughout the day.
Prolactin on the other hand, may also cause your body to lactate in excess, i.e., increase in milk production. When this escalates, the ovulation process and the menstrual cycle is hampered. It is due to this reason, that women rarely conceive when lactating. Prolactin, when produced in excess, may inhibit two hormones deemed necessary for the process of ovulation. Follicle-Stimulating Hormone and Gonadotropin Releasing Hormone. When excess of prolactin becomes a chronic condition to endure the capacity to ovulate decreases leading to infertility.
Etiology of High Prolactin Levels

The normal prolactin level in pregnant, and nonpregnant women is 10 to 209 ng/ml and 2 to 29 ng/ml, respectively. However, there are certain causes due to which the prolactin levels increase.
Pregnancy and Breastfeeding
A condition that causes an increase in the prolactin levels is pregnancy followed by breast-feeding. When women conceive, their mammary glands mature. This is a clear signal for the mother-to-be that the preparation for breastfeeding has now begun. Estrogen is the hormone that is primarily responsible for breast growth. When the process of breast enlargement is completed, prolactin comes into the picture indicating that the breasts have matured and the milk-producing cells must begin the process for lactation. Prolactin levels, even after delivery, remain active and sustain lactation. The prolactin levels fall again when the process of breastfeeding is terminated. Thus, high prolactin levels during pregnancy and at the time of lactation are normal and should not be a cause of worry.
Pituitary Tumors
When a woman endures pituitary tumors, the result may be a rise in prolactin levels. The cells of the pituitary are prone to make and release prolactin in amounts required by the body. However, where the condition of pituitary tumor is concerned, the number of cells that release prolactin increase. This in turn increases the prolactin levels in the body. Women who endure this condition may have irregular menstrual cycles as well as lactation that is not associated with conception. If the tumor grows in size, women risk their vision, thus, developing impairment accompanied with severe headaches.
Consumption of Anti-psychotic Drugs
Certain medications in the form of antipsychotic drugs can lead to higher prolactin levels in women. When these medications are prescribed for a prolonged period, there are a number of side effects that women may have to face. The most devastating side effects that the administration of this medication can cause is osteoporosis, as the bone mineral density is adversely affected. In worst circumstances, the sustained consumption of these medications can cause the prolactin levels to rise continuously, leading to hypogonadism. This is a condition marked by hormonal imbalances in women.
Galactorrhea
Another indicant that points to the increase in prolactin levels is the production and discharge of breast milk, albeit a woman is not pregnant. When the levels of prolactin rise, it is observed that breast milk is secreted in the same manner, irrespective of the fact that you are pregnant or not. Studies reveal that pre-menapausal women are comparatively more susceptible to this condition than post-menapausal woman.
Treatment Options

The main aim of treating this condition is to lower the prolactin levels in the blood. Before the line of treatment is chosen, it is mandatory that the concerned patient and the practitioner discuss the risks and benefits, the treatment has in store for the individual. If the prolactinoma or the lactotroph adenomas causes discomfort resulting in the elevation of symptoms, it is required that the individual is treated. If the adenoma is small and insignificant in size, treatment is not required. Most of the cases respond well to the drug therapy; however, when the system fails to respond, the other alternatives that could be applied is surgery or radiation therapy.
Abnormal prolactin levels have always been a cause of concern for women, and I believe it ought to be one. If you find the prolactin levels in your body soaring high, dependability is best suited toward garnering an expert's advice, and not on self-quacked formulations.