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PROLACTIN

About the test
What is this test done for?
To measure the amount of a hormone called prolactin, released by pituitary gland in the blood.
Why is it Done?

For evaluating prolactin levels in blood in women, for

  • Finding the cause of unexpected nipple discharge without pregnancy/lactation
  • Finding the cause of infertility
  • Ruling out the tumor of prolactinoma (tumor of pituitary gland)

Rarely, this test is done for males, when they have lack of sexual desire or erectile dysfunction.

When should it be performed?

This test is performed when a patient has

  • Abnormal nipple discharge
  • Amenorrhea (not having periods for longer duration) or irregular menstrual periods
  • Difficulty in conception (infertility)
  • Symptoms of prolactinoma (pituitary tumor)
    • Unexplained headache
    • Visual impairment
    • Galactorrhea or lactation outside of childbirth or nursing
    • Pain or discomfort during sex (dysperunia)
    • Abnormal growth of body or facial hair
    • Abnormal acne

The test is done in males for evaluating the cause of prolactinoma, erectile dysfunction, testicular dysfunction and impotency.

How is it done
A blood sample will be collected from a vein in your arm. Blood sample is collected about 3 hours after you wake up, between 8-10 am. Avoid strenuous exercise and nipple stimulation for about 24 hours before conducting the test.
Results

The test result is normal, if levels are 2-18 ng/mL (for males) and 2-29 ng/mL (for females). It means absence of prolactinoma.

The levels of prolactin are high, if it is > 30 ng/mL. It could be due to -

  • Pregnancy (levels are high in pregnancy, up to 209ng/mL)
  • Prolactinoma
  • Chest wall injury
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Disease of hypothalamus
  • Kidney disease
  • Medications
    • Antidepressants
    • Estrogen
    • H2 blockers
    • Butyrophenons
    • Methyldopa
    • Phenothiazines
    • Verapamil
    • Riseperidone
Other Tests
  • TSH
    • Low blood TSH levels suggest hypothyroidism, which can increase prolactin levels
  • FSH & LH
    • Low blood FSH levels aid in the diagnosis of infertility
    • Abnormal blood FSH levels help to evaluate menstrual abnormalities
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