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"What do high prolactin levels indicate?"

ZocdocAnswersWhat do high prolactin levels indicate?


I'm a middle-aged woman, and as part of my fertility treatment, my doctor tested my prolactin levels. She said they were unusually high, but she didn't really explain. What does it mean when a woman has high levels of prolactin?


Prolactin is a hormone released from you pituitary gland (in the brain) that stimulates that breast glands to produce milk. It is primarily released leading up to and after birth of a child. Therefore, in a normal, non-pregnant, non breast feeding female, prolactin levels should be relatively low. The reason your doctor checked your prolactin levels is because the hormone can inhibit the other pituitary hormones that maintain your normal cycle and allow for normal ovulation. This is why when women are breast feeding (and prolactin levels are high), that women generally don't have their periods, or they are irregular. Prolactin can be released from the pituitary gland inappropriately from a gland that is enlarged, from certain medications people take, or if the thyroid gland isn't working properly. Prolactin levels that are abnormally high is actually quite common. The main symptoms women have are irregular periods, galactorea (milky discharge from breast), or trouble getting pregnant. Abnormally high prolactin levels that are interfering with getting pregnant can be dealt with in a variety of ways ranging from medicines to surgery. Your doctor will know which form of treatment is best for you, if treatment is warranted at all. Good luck!

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