Philadelphia, PA - Have you been trying to get pregnant for some time with no results? If so, you might want to ask your doctor to check your prolactin, as high levels can lower your chances of conceiving.
How Can Prolactin Levels Affect Fertility
What is prolactin?
Prolactin is a hormone that is produced in the pituitary gland in your brain. It is sometimes known as the 'milk hormone,' as women who are breastfeeding have high levels of it in their bodies. It is this hormone that stimulates milk production.
What causes high prolactin?
There are various reasons why someone's body might produce too much prolactin. These include anorexia nervosa, liver or kidney disease, hyperthyroidism, or a hormone imbalance such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). In rare cases, it can be caused by a noncancerous growth on the pituitary gland. If this is the cause, a blood test will show extremely high levels of the hormone.
How does this affect fertility?
Higher than normal levels of prolactin can disrupt the production of estrogen and progesterone. These are the hormones that regulate your cycle and cause an egg to be released each month. You may find that if your prolactin levels are high, you have light or absent periods.
What are the signs of high prolactin?
As well as effects on your periods and fertility, you might notice a loss of libido, excessive hair growth (hirsutism), or acne. You may also see a small amount of milky liquid leaking from your nipples.
Should I be worried?
High prolactin is usually nothing to be worried about. Your doctor can do a quick blood test to check your levels, and you will hear the results within a couple of days. Depending on your situation, you may be offered fertility treatments or drugs such as bromocriptine or cabergoline to reduce levels.