Prolactin Test: What does it mean?


Mira shared an insightful blog on prolactin that femme health loves! It covers prolactin's roles, how tests spot irregular levels affecting cycles and fertility. High levels could stem from meds or tumors, impacting fertility; low levels, rare but impactful on immunity. The blog mentions test methods, from clinical blood work to at-home finger-prick tests. Remember, consulting healthcare pros for a full understanding of hormonal levels is key! Thanks, Mira, for this insightful piece! 

Written by Crystal for Mira

What is Prolactin? 

Prolactin is a hormone that prepares the breast tissue for lactation and milk production. It also affects various body systems—including the reproductive system, behaviour, the nervous system, and the immune system. After childbirth, prolactin levels rise while estrogen levels decrease, facilitating milk production.

What is the purpose of performing a prolactin test?

Testing prolactin levels is crucial for understanding symptoms associated with abnormal prolactin levels. These symptoms may include irregular menstrual cycles, difficulty getting pregnant, breast tenderness, headaches, changes in vision, vaginal dryness, hot flashes, decreased libido, and osteoporosis.


What do high prolactin results mean?

Around a third of women in their reproductive age experience irregular periods, which can be attributed to hyperprolactinemia, a condition characterized by elevated prolactin levels despite normal ovarian function. When this happens, a woman might have trouble getting pregnant, her breasts may start producing milk outside of pregnancy (galactorrhea) or they may feel tender throughout the menstrual cycle. No cause is found in about a third of all cases of hyperprolactinemia.  

High results causes:

  • Medications that treat nausea and vomiting.
  • Pain relievers that contain opioids.
  • Pituitary tumors (prolactinomas)
  • Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid)
  • Medicines given for depression, psychosis, and high blood pressure
  • Herbs, including fenugreek, fennel seeds, and red clover 
  • Irritation of the chest wall (from surgical scars, shingles, or even a too-tight bra)
  • Stress or exercise (usually excessive or extreme)
  • Nipple stimulation 

What does it mean if my prolactin results are low?

Low prolactin levels do not usually cause medical issues, but they may reduce immune responses to some infections.

Low result causes:

Hypopituitarism—a rare condition caused by damage or pressure on the pituitary gland, resulting in a deficiency of one or more of the hormones it produces. It can often cause low prolactin. 

Note: Your hormonal level test results are not a substitute for medical advice. Please consult with your healthcare provider.

How can I test Prolactin?

Prolactin is a blood test. You have two options to obtain results: 

  • Clinical blood test from a vein,
  • At-home finger-prick test, that is gaining popularity due to their convenience and privacy. 

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