Prolactin is a hormone produced by the pituitary gland. It plays an important role in women's reproductive health, and its levels can be used to diagnose a number of medical conditions.
So, it’s important to have some understanding of what are normal prolactin levels and how they can be affected by lifestyle factors such as stress, exercise, or diet.
Read on to learn more about what are normal prolactin levels and how they affect your health.
What is prolactin?
Prolactin is a hormone produced by the pituitary gland and its levels in the bloodstream can be measured by a prolactin blood test.
A high level of prolactin, known as hyperprolactinemia, can be caused by certain health conditions such as kidney disease, pituitary tumour, and thyroid hormone imbalances. In the case of elevated prolactin levels, prolactin stimulates breast tissue growth and increases milk production.
Prolactin levels are checked through a blood sample and compared to measures of thyroid hormones, which should remain at normal levels.
A prolation level of more than 20 to 25 ng/ml represents an elevated prolactin level, which can indicate issues such as kidney disease, underactive thyroid, pituitary tumours, or even erectile dysfunction and irregularities with menstrual periods.
What are normal prolactin levels?
Normal values range from 4 to 23 ng/ml; if it is over this amount, it may indicate that there is an excess of prolactin in the body. A prolactin test may diagnose various conditions and determine whether treatment is necessary.
Suppose a person's prolactin levels are found to be abnormally high. In that case, there are therapies available to help reduce them.
Though most often known for stimulating breast development and producing breast milk during nursing, an elevated prolactin level can also raise positive symptoms when treated correctly.
Prolactin is an important hormone in the body. It plays a key role in regulating breast milk production and helps to raise prolactin levels.
Factors That Affect Prolactin Levels
There are a number of factors that can affect prolactin levels in both men and women, including certain medications like birth control pills or antipsychotics; diseases like kidney failure; pregnancy; stress; alcohol consumption; and diet deficiencies such as iron deficiency anaemia or vitamin B6 deficiency.
It is important to note that some of these factors may have an effect on your body without directly affecting your prolactin levels but still could influence them indirectly over time so if any health issues arise, talk to your physician right away.
The Function of Prolactin In the Body
Perhaps one of prolactin’s best-known functions is its role in milk production. When a baby suckles on the breast, nerve pathways signal to the pituitary gland to release prolactin, which then triggers milk production and secretion in mammary glands.
Growth Hormone Regulation
Prolactin also helps regulate growth hormone, another important hormone for our health. Growth hormones are responsible for cell regeneration and metabolism, among other things. Without proper regulation of growth hormones, those essential cellular processes can be disrupted or impaired.
Prolactin also plays an important role in sexual functioning, both male and female alike. Too much prolactin can inhibit sex drive and lead to erectile dysfunction or infertility in men, while too little can cause irregular periods or infertility in women.
Immune System Modulation
Prolactin is also involved in modulating our immune systems; high levels of prolactin have been linked to increased inflammation and autoimmune disorders such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis.
On the other hand, low levels of prolactin can suppress your body’s ability to fight off infection and illness.
Finally, prolactin has been linked with metabolic processes like glucose homeostasis (maintaining consistent blood sugar levels) and cholesterol synthesis (creating cholesterol).
This means that it affects how we use energy from food sources and how we store fat.
High Prolactin Levels: What Are The Symptoms?
High levels of prolactin can interfere with fertility and make it difficult to conceive. If a woman has difficulty getting pregnant due to high prolactin levels, she may experience irregular menstrual cycles and ovulation problems.
Men may also experience infertility caused by high prolactin levels, as it can reduce sperm production and quality.
High prolactin levels can cause lactation when not pregnant or breastfeeding. This is known as galactorrhea and can range from mild to severe cases where milk leaks from the nipples.
While this symptom is more common among women, it can also occur in men. Galactorrhea could indicate that you have an underlying health issue that needs to be addressed by your doctor immediately.
A headache is one of the most common symptoms of high prolactin levels in both men and women alike.
These headaches may vary from mild to severe and often last for a few days at a time before subsiding on their own or after treatment with medications prescribed by your doctor.
High prolactin levels can also lead to decreased libido in both men and women alike due to its effect on reproductive hormones like testosterone and oestrogen, which are necessary for healthy sexual functioning in both sexes.
Low libido could be a sign that your body is producing too much prolactin, which should be investigated further with your doctor if it persists over time.
Unexplained Weight Gain
Unexplained weight gain without any changes in diet or exercise habits could be related to high levels of prolactin which causes an increase in appetite leading to weight gain over time if not addressed properly with lifestyle changes or medications prescribed by your doctor, depending on the severity of the condition causing the increase in prolactin production.
Knowing what normal prolactin levels are is important for managing overall health and well-being since high or low levels can cause various medical issues related to fertility issues in both men and women, as well as metabolic problems such as high blood pressure or headaches in those with elevated readings.
Keeping track of your own health by periodically checking your own level is key for catching unhealthy trends before they become serious issues down the road!
If any concerning symptoms appear, talk to a doctor right away for further advice on how best to manage them!
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