Definition - What does Hyperprolactinemia mean?

Hyperprolactinemia refers to an abnormally high level of the hormone prolactin in the body. High levels of prolactin are important for pregnant or breastfeeding women, however in everyone else it may indicate a problem with the pituitary gland or an abnormal reaction to certain medications. Hyperprolactinemia can lead to fertility complications in both men and women.

FertilitySmarts explains Hyperprolactinemia

Prolactin is created in the pituitary gland, the portion of the brain responsible for the development of many sexual reproductive hormones. During pregnancy and after childbirth, prolactin is responsible for stimulating breast growth and milk production. Therefore, heightened levels are standard during that time.

However, when prolactin levels are heightened, the body naturally compensates by producing smaller amounts of standard sex hormones testosterone and estrogen. Several problems can arise from this in both men and women, including:

  • Infertility
  • Low sex drive
  • Bone Loss

In women specifically:

  • Irregular or absent menstrual periods
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Breast discharge

In men specifically:

  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Decreased muscle mass
  • Decreased body hair

Certain medications can raise prolactin levels, as well as the presence of a tumor on the pituitary gland. Prolactin levels can be tested with a blood test. If the presence of a tumor is suspected an MRI scan may be taken of the brain and pituitary gland. Treatment depends on the exact cause of the hyperprolactinemia, but can include medical, surgical, or lifestyle changes.

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