Prolactin Problems

There are three glands known as the sex glands that are part of the endocrine system of the human body. Although more glands and organs are included in the endocrine system, the glands that are connected to human reproduction are:

· Pituitary

· Hypothalamus

· Thyroid

All three glands secrete hormones that are important for procreation. The pituitary gland is a tiny gland, about the size of a pea that is found at the base of the brain. This gland secretes a hormone called prolactin, a hormone that is necessary for both men and women in terms of sexual function. Prolactin is released at various times throughout the day and night and its main function is to stimulate breast milk production after childbirth. It is quite normal for a woman to have high prolactin levels during pregnancy and breastfeeding.

What Prolactin Does in Normal Situations

Normal levels of prolactin in a woman's body do not inhibit the release and function of other important hormones. However, if the levels are too high, it can affect ovulation and the menstrual cycle by inhibiting follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and gonadotropin releasing hormone (GnRH). If there is no ovulation, then the result is infertility. Anovulation, or the absence of ovulation can then affect menses by causing irregular periods.

Prolactin lowers the levels of sex hormones (estrogen and testosterone) in both men and women. Too much of this hormone lowers the levels to the place where sexual as well as menstrual dysfunction occurs. Increased levels of prolactin may be due to a disease or the use of certain types of medications. Often, the cause of raised levels of this hormone is due to a small prolactin-producing tumor sitting on the pituitary gland called a prolactinoma. It occurs mostly in women and is almost always benign. Pressure from other tumors might also cause an increase in prolactin production.


Some of the Results of High Prolactin Levels

There are some results of high prolactin levels that are the same for both men and women, including infertility, low sex drive and bone loss. Additionally, women may have:

· No periods or irregular periods

· Vaginal dryness

· Breast discharge even though they are not nursing

· Adolescent girls may also experience both menstrual problems and breast discharge

Table of Contents
1. Prolactin Problems
2. What Causes High Prolactin?
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