General Health

Components of Amenorrhoea Profile Test- Part 3

Overview

The level of prolactin in the blood is measured by a prolactin level test. The pituitary gland also called the “master” gland, a tiny gland near the base of the brain, produces prolactin. During pregnancy and after birth, prolactin stimulates the breasts to develop and produce milk. Prolactin levels in pregnant women and new mothers are typically high. Non-pregnant women and males usually have low levels.

If the prolactin levels are elevated than normal, the individual may have a prolactinoma, which is a type of pituitary gland’s non-cancerous tumour. The gland produces too much prolactin as a result of the tumour.

Excess prolactin can cause men and women who are not pregnant or breastfeeding to produce breast milk. Menstrual difficulties and infertility can also be caused by too much prolactin in women (the inability to get pregnant). It might cause a decrease in sex drive and erectile dysfunction in men (ED). The inability to get or maintain an erection, often known as impotence, is referred to as ED.

Regulation of prolactin secretion

Prolactin is a pituitary hormone that is mostly inhabited by dopamine released into the pituitary portal blood from hypothalamic dopamine neurons, including the tuberoinfundibular dopamine (TIDA) neurons. Dopamine appears to be the primary prolactin-inhibitory agent influencing directly pituitary prolactin-secreting cells, whereas norepinephrine and potentially epinephrine regulate prolactin release at the hypothalamic level, and serotonin indirectly increases prolactin production. Other substances have been shown to affect prolactin secretion, either as prolactin-inhibiting factors like gamma-amino-butyric acid,’ somatostatin, and histidyl-proline-diketopiperazines or as prolactin-stimulating factors like a thyrotropin-releasing hormone.

Prolactin level test can be employed for the following:

In females

  • Menopausal symptoms such as hot flushes and vaginal dryness are prevalent.
  • Periods that are irregular or don’t exist at all, The absence of menstruation, commonly defined as missing one or more menstrual cycles, is known as (amenorrhea).
  • Infertility is after 12 months or longer of frequent unprotected sexual intercourse, and failure to conceive a pregnancy.
  • (Galactorrhea) When you’re not pregnant or breastfeeding, your breast milk may leak out.
  • Tenderness, throbbing, intense, stabbing, scorching pain, or tightness in the breast tissue are all symptoms of breast pain (mastalgia).

In males

  • Sex drive has dwindled (low libido)
  • Having trouble gaining an erection.
  • Tenderness or expansion of the breasts.
  • Production of breast milk (very rare).

Significance

Elevated prolactin secretion can block the secretion of follicle-stimulating hormone and gonadotropin-releasing hormone, resulting in hypogonadism and possibly erectile dysfunction. Prolactin levels can be examined as part of a sex hormone evaluation.

Prolactin levels may help identify epileptic seizures from non-epileptic psychogenic seizures. Following an epileptic episode, the level of serum prolactin normally rises.

Normal values

 The threshold of prolactin for women is 25 g/L, while for men it is 20 g/L, according to general standards for diagnosing prolactin excess (hyperprolactinemia). Similarly, prolactin levels below 3 g/L in women and 5 g/L in men are used to diagnose prolactin deficiency (hyperprolactinemia). However, because different laboratories use different assays and methods for measuring prolactin, the serum reference range for prolactin is frequently defined by the laboratory doing the measurement. In addition, prolactin levels differ depending on age, sex, menstrual cycle stage, and pregnancy. Before a prolactin value may be accurately interpreted, the circumstances surrounding the test (assay, patient state, etc.) must be considered.

In the blood, the typical range for prolactin is:

Less than 20 ng/mL (425 g/L) in men

Non-pregnant women with fewer than 25 ng/mL (25 g/L)

80 to 400 ng/mL (80 to 400 g/L) for pregnant women

Elevated Prolactin Levels

If the value is beyond the expected range, it does not necessarily imply that the individual is having an ailment. If He/she has taken abnormal diets or was under heavy stress at the time of blood sample collection, his/her levels may be out of the expected range.

It’s possible that the individual has prolactinoma if the levels are extremely high — up to 1,000 times the upper limit of what’s considered normal. This is not cancerous growth, and it is normally treated with medication. A health care professional may suggest undergoing MRI. The individual lies within a magnetic tube while the MRI gadget creates a detailed image of the brain using radio waves. It will evaluate whether or not the individual has a tumour in proximity pituitary gland and if so, the size of the lump.

Low Prolactin levels

If the prolactin levels are lower than the expected range, it’s possible that the pituitary gland isn’t functioning properly. Hypopituitarism is an uncommon condition in which the pituitary gland fails to produce one or more hormones, or produces insufficient amounts of hormones. When anyone has hypopituitarism, they will almost certainly need to take medicine for the rest of their lives. The medication aids in the replacement of missing hormones, enabling you to take more control of overall symptoms.

Author

Yash Batra

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