What is Prolactin (Lth Hormone)? Symptoms of High Prolactin

The pituitary gland is located within the protective bone structure called the “Turkish saddle”, located just behind the root of the nose, and continues its functions in connection with the hypothalamus, another brain structure. The hypothalamus controls the level of prolactin (prl) and various other hormones that will be produced by the pituitary gland and released into the bloodstream. Prolactin hormone (PRL hormone) is produced by lactotrope cells located in the anterior part of the pituitary gland. Due to the cells from which it originates, this hormone is also called lactotropic hormone (LTH hormone, milk hormone).

What is Prolactin?

During pregnancy, there is an increase in the level of cells that synthesize the hormone prolactin, and after this increase, the mammary glands in the breast tissue of the expectant mother begin to develop and produce their secretion. Elevated prolactin hormone levels at times other than its physiological effects on breast tissue may result in the development of some health problems and complaints. For example, high prolactin levels in women may manifest themselves with complaints such as amenorrhea (lack of menstruation), while in men it may cause symptoms such as headache or loss of libido (sexual reluctance).

The answer to the question of what the prolactin hormone is is that it is a hormone composed of polypeptide building blocks and is very important for milk production, breast tissue development and many other body functions. The increase in the prolactin hormone level (elevated milk hormone) stimulates the cells in the breast tissue and stimulates the synthesis of lactose (milk sugar), casein (milk protein) and various fatty substances. High levels of progesterone hormone during pregnancy suppress the effects of this hormone.

With birth, the decrease in progesterone level causes prolactin to become more prominent. Even after birth, prolactin levels do not remain consistently high. This hormone, whose level peaks momentarily upon stimulation of the nipple, remains at high levels as long as the baby continues to suckle.

Low prolactin in women and men outside the breastfeeding period is a normal condition in terms of human physiology. Prolactin reference range is a parameter that varies depending on gender. The answer to the question of how much prolactin should be is expressed as less than 25 ng/ml in women, while the normal value of prolactin in men is expressed as below 17ng/ml. The prolactin test is a very simple test and allows measuring the amount of the hormone in the bloodstream.

Some birth control medications, drugs used to treat hypertension, and antidepressants should be careful as they may affect the prolactin test result. Sleep problems, high stress levels or strenuous exercise before the test are among other factors that may affect the test result.

Why Does Prolactin Hormone Increase?

While low prolactin levels are not generally considered a health problem, high prolactin hormone levels, called hyperprolactinemia, may indicate an underlying health problem.

A prolactin level between 30 ng/ml and 200 ng/ml is called high prolactin. There may be many different reasons behind such elevated hormone levels. The nutritional disorder defined as anorexia nervosa is one of the answers to the question of what causes high milk hormone levels. Apart from this, an increase in prolactin level may also occur in conditions such as liver diseases, polycystic ovary syndrome, kidney problems and hypothyroidism. Hypothyroidism, which refers to the inability of the thyroid gland to perform its functions, is a problem that can cause enlargement of the pituitary gland, but it can be easily controlled with thyroid hormone supplements.

In pituitary tumors, which is another condition that affects the production of prolactin hormone and causes high prolactin levels, surgical interventions may be used in addition to drug treatment. These tumors, called prolactinoma, are non-cancerous tumors of prolactin-producing cells in the pituitary gland. When physicians suspect prolactinoma as the cause of high prolactin levels, they may use radiological examinations such as computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). As a result of these imaging methods, the tumor in the pituitary gland and how large it is can be determined. While prolactinomas in women are generally small tumors, these tumors, which are the cause of high prolactin levels, tend to be larger in men. Large tumors can put pressure on the surrounding nerves and cause complaints such as vision problems or headaches.

An increase in prolactin levels may also occur after consuming herbs such as red clover, fenugreek and fennel. For this reason, products containing these plants are among the “things that should not be eaten with high prolactin levels” and are recommended not to be consumed by those with high prolactin hormone levels unless otherwise stated by physicians in a high prolactin diet. Foods that lower prolactin, which are the answer to the question of how prolactin patients should eat, are generally foods containing vitamin B6 or E.

What Causes High Prolactin?

Symptoms of high prolactin hormone levels may manifest themselves differently in men and women. The increase in prolactin level, which generally affects milk production and menstrual cycle, is a problem that should not be overlooked in the presence of sexual dysfunction called erectile dysfunction in men.

Many signs and symptoms may occur with high prolactin levels in women:

  • Infertility ( barrenness)
  • Irregular period
  • Change in the intensity of menstrual bleeding
  • menstrual delay
  • Loss of sexual desire
  • Milk coming from the breast, called galactorrhea
  • Pain in breasts
  • vaginal dryness

Symptoms of high milk hormone levels in men are as follows:

  • Feminine breast enlargement defined as gynecomastia
  • Milk coming from the breast
  • Infertility (sterility)
  • erectile dysfunction
  • Loss of sexual desire
  • Headache
  • vision problems

Infertility is an important health problem that is among the answers to the question of what causes high milk hormone levels. It is important to investigate the prolactin level and the presence of pituitary tumors such as prolactinoma, especially in couples who want to become pregnant but cannot achieve this. High prolactin level in women may negatively affect the synthesis of hormones such as estrogen and progesterone. As a result of this situation, egg cell release in the ovaries may become irregular or stop completely.

How to Lower Prolactin?

Treatment of hyperprolactinemia (excess prolactin) varies depending on the underlying cause of this condition. In some cases, the underlying cause is determined to be a tumor and surgical intervention is performed, while in some cases, this problem can be controlled only with medical treatment.

If it is determined that the high level of prolactin is caused by the medications the person uses for other health problems, alternative treatment plans can be created to reduce this hormone level to normal limits. In cases of thyroid gland problems, prolactin levels can be reduced by administering the hormones produced by this gland.

In cases of small-sized prolactinoma that does not cause other symptoms, treatment can be carried out with drugs classified as dopamine agonists. After the use of these drugs, in addition to a decrease in the level of prolactin hormone, a decrease in tumor size and improvement in sexual functions can be achieved. Treatment with dopamine agonists continues regularly for approximately 2 years. At the end of this period, if the person’s prolactin levels are within normal limits and no tumor can be detected on magnetic resonance imaging, the treatment can be terminated.

Although most cases of prolactinoma can be controlled with medical treatment, radiation therapy or surgical interventions may also be used in some cases. These treatment methods come to the fore especially in patients who are resistant to medical treatment. Surgical interventions to treat pituitary tumors are generally performed endoscopically through the nose. If the entire tumor cannot be removed for various reasons, postoperative radiotherapy (radiation therapy) may be applied.

Low prolactin hormone levels are generally considered normal. If the level of prolactin, a hormone produced in the pituitary gland, exceeds normal limits, it is called hyperprolactinemia. It should not be forgotten that high prolactin is a health problem that can be controlled with various treatment methods. Treatment of high prolactin may vary depending on the underlying cause of this condition and the person’s high prolactin level. If you detect lactation (milk supply), erectile dysfunction, loss of libido or similar complaints that indicate high prolactin in your body, it is recommended that you contact healthcare institutions and get support from specialist physicians.

Abbas Jahangir

I am a researcher and writer with a background in food and nutritional science. I am the founder of Foodstrend.com, our reputable online platform offering scientifically-backed articles on health, food, nutrition, kitchen tips, recipes, diet, and fitness. With a commitment to providing accurate and reliable information, we strive to empower our readers to make informed decisions about their health and lifestyle choices. Join us on Foodstrend.com's journey toward a healthier and happier lifestyle.

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