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Hyperprolactinemia: How It Can Affect And Why You Should Find Out

Hyperproclatinemia is a condition that is characterised by high levels of a hormone called prolactin in the blood. Prolactin is produced by the pituitary gland and plays a crucial role in the development of the breasts during pregnancy.

While hyperprolactinemia is considered perfectly normal during pregnancy and breastfeeding, it can occur at other times due to disease and medication use. When hyperprolactinemia occurs in non-pregnant and non-brastfeeding women, it can lead to irregular menstrual periods and make getting pregnant difficult.

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What Causes Abnormal Prolactin Levels?

Prolactin levels may be elevated for any number of reasons, but one of the more common cause is the formation of a tumour on the pituitary gland. It is a non-cancerous growth known as Prolactinoma which directly secretes excessive prolactin while decreasing the levels of other sex hormones.

When the hypothalamus- a part of the brain is affected by some type of disease, elevated levels of prolactin can also be induced. The hypothalamus functions as the link between the nervous system and the pituitary gland. The increase in prolactin levels can often be directly linked to a tumor, trauma, or infection of the hypothalamus.

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Other causes of hyperprolactinemia may include hypothyroidism (Low thyroid hormone levels), cirrhosis of the liver, chronic kidney failure, certain medications including antidepressants, antipsychotics, antihypertensives, antinauseals, estrogen, and Acid H2 blockers. (source: verywellhealth.com)

Symptoms Of Hyperprolactinemia

The symptoms of the condition can vary from woman to woman but typically includes:

  • Infertility
  • Infrequent or irregular periods
  • Irregular menstrual periods (oligomenorrhea) or no menstrual periods (amenorrhea)
  • Milky discharge from the breasts (galactorrhea) when not pregnant or breast-feeding
  • Painful intercourse due to vaginal dryness
  • Acne and excessive body and facial hair growth (hirsutism)

In some cases, headaches caused by the pituitary tumor or changes in vision may be the first sign of the condition in both men and women.

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Diagnosis Of Hyperprolactinemia

The diagnosis of hyperprolactinemia involves a routine blood test to check prolactin levels. If the blood levels are elevated, the doctor may want to repeat the test, this time after fasting for at least eight hours.

Normal prolactin levels are less than 500 mIU/L for women. An MRI scan may be ordered to find evidonce for any tumours or growth on the pituitary gland.

Treatment Of Hyperprolactinemia

The goal of treatment is to restore prolactin to normal levels and treatment options for individuals will depend on the peculiar cause of their condition.

If you have any disturbing symptoms, be sure to see your doctor and completely avoid self-medication.

 

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