Prolactin Serum Test
The Prolactin Serum Test measures the level of prolactin in the blood and helps screen for prolactinoma.
What is the purpose of this test?
Order this Prolactin Serum Test to measure the level of prolactin in the blood and to help screen for a pituitary tumor (prolactinoma). Prolactin (PRL) is a hormone made by the pituitary gland at the base of the brain. Prolactin is an essential hormone for developing certain female physical features and reproductive functions, such as growing breast and breast milk production in women or anyone with ovaries. Prolactin levels are generally high for pregnant women and new mothers. However, levels usually are low for men and nonpregnant women. Prolactin's normal function in men or anyone with testes is currently unknown.
Individuals may order this Prolactin Serum test to help:
- Diagnose a prolactinoma
- Determine the cause of a woman's menstrual irregularities or infertility
- Determine the cause of a man's low sex drive and erectile dysfunction
What conditions cause abnormal prolactin levels?
Abnormally high prolactin levels may indicate an underlying health condition, such as a tumor of the pituitary gland tumor known as prolactinoma. This benign (noncancerous) tumor causes the pituitary gland to produce too much prolactin. While these tumors are noncancerous, if left untreated, they can cause damage to surrounding tissues.
Overproduction of prolactin can cause lactation in men and women who are nonpregnant or not breastfeeding. In women, too much prolactin can also cause menstrual irregularities and infertility. In addition, it can lead to lower sex drive and erectile dysfunction (ED) in men. Commonly referred to as impotence, ED is the incapability to get or sustain an erection.
Other conditions that may cause abnormal prolactin levels may include:
- A disease that affects the hypothalamus area of the brain, which controls the pituitary gland and other body functions.
- Liver disease
When should I order a Prolactin Serum Test?
Individuals may order this Prolactin Serum Test if they have experienced symptoms associated with a prolactinoma. Common signs or symptoms of prolactinoma may include:
- Production of breast milk if you are not pregnant or breastfeeding
- Nipple discharge
- Irregular periods
- Breast tenderness
- Vision problems
- Low sex drive
- Erectile dysfunction or "ED"
- Muscle pain
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