Prolactin is a protein hormone secreted by the anterior pituitary gland situated in the brain. It plays a significant role in helping milk secretion in the mammary gland during the lactating period. The pituitary gland is called the master gland because it makes hormones that control levels of other hormones.
Normal functioning of the pituitary gland is needed for good health. The prolactin level increases during pregnancy and remains high during the breast feeding period after the child’s birth. It returns to normal after months of breast feeding.
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Women suffer from variety of complication during the pregnancy period. Every women’s body is made in such a way that she can make her child stay healthy in variety of ways. But while doing so, they need to get themselves in some sorts of difficulties. Prolactine hormone disorder takes place when the secretion takes place in the pituitary gland.
Even this hormone stimulates the milk formation in a new mom. If this hormone disorder takes place in an unmarried or non pregnant woman, it leads to breast discharge. This can also lead to head aches and other related physical complications.
Prolactin hormone disorder | deficiency in mothers
Prolactin is a hormone secreted by the pituitary gland located in the brain. During pregnancy, it stimulates the milk formation. In non-pregnant women, it is secreted in small quantities. Excess prolactin production, referred to as hyperprolactinemia, in women who are not pregnant results in breast discharge, irregular or absent periods, infrequent or lack of ovulation, and sometimes headaches and visual symptoms.
Causes for prolactin hormone disorder
- Causes for excess prolactin levels include pituitary tumors (adenomas), hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid), and medications such as tranquilizers, some high blood pressure medications, antidepressants, anti-nausea drugs, and oral contraceptives.
- Recreational drugs such as marijuana also can result in increased prolactin levels. Prolactin secretion may increase slightly following a breast examination, exercise, intercourse, nipple stimulation, stress, sleep and certain foods.
- One in three women with prolactin excess has no identifiable cause, and about 30 to 40 percent of cases are caused by a benign, noncancerous, pituitary tumor.
- The diagnosis of hyperprolactinemia is made by determining blood levels of prolactin. Other hormone levels also may need to be checked such as a thyroid hormone. An MRI or CT scan is useful in determining the presence and the size of a tumor.
Diagnosis and treatment of prolactinoma
- A Prolactinoma is the most common type of pituitary tumor.
- Prolactin stimulates the breast to produce milk during pregnancy. After delivery of the baby, a mother’s prolactin levels fall unless she breast feeds her infant. During nursing, prolactin levels rise to maintain milk production.
- A Prolactinoma is a benign tumor of the pituitary cells that produce prolactin, resulting in high levels of prolactin in the blood (hyperprolactinemia).
The menstrual cycle depends on a balance of estrogen, a form of estradiol, follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), luteinizing hormone (LH) and progesterone, as well as other hormones
- Amenorrhea: Amenorrhea means an absence of periods. When you’re not having any periods, the balance of hormones is usually upset.
- Short menstrual cycles: Because menstrual cycles usually consist of approximately 14 days of follicular or egg development and 14 days of luteal phase, or post-ovulatory phase, anything that shortens either phase can result in periods that are unusually close together.
- Long menstrual cycles: Long menstrual cycles, or periods that are further apart than every 35 days, may be caused by polycystic ovary syndrome or PCOS. PCOS is caused by an increased level of the male hormones (androgens)
- Anovulation: Low levels of the hormone LH can result in a syndrome called luteinized unruptured follicle, or LUF. In LUF, an egg develops in a follicle but the LH doesn’t rise high enough to cause release of the egg, resulting in a lack of ovulation (anovulation), according to Georgia Reproductive Specialists.
Prolactin hormone disorder in women
In women, hyperprolactinemia often cause changes in menstruation and infertility.
Some women may lose periods altogether (amenorrhea), and others may have irregular or infrequent menstruation.
Women who are not pregnant or nursing may begin producing breast milk (called galactorrhea). Some women may experience a loss of libido (interest in sex).
Patients with large pituitary tumors (macroadenomas, greater than 10 mm) may also have low levels of the other pituitary hormones (called hypopituitarism) because of pressure of the tumor on the normal gland. Hence, it is important for the physician to measure the other pituitary hormones as well. Macroadenomas, if compressing the optic nerves, could cause loss of peripheral vision as well.
Women with hyperprolactinemia and amenorrhea may have an increased risk for osteoporosis (bone loss). It is important for women with a history of amenorrhea to have bone density measurements performed, even after hyperprolactinemia treatment, to assess the effect of the estrogen deficiency on bone.
Hyperprolactinemia is a condition when excess production of prolactin takes place in non-pregnant women. It can result to irregular or absent periods, discharge from breasts, lack of ovulation and sometimes headaches and visual disorders. These women can have problem in conceiving
Causes of hyperprolactinemia
A prolactinoma is the most common type of pituitary tumor which stimulates the breast to produce milk during pregnancy. It is a benign tumor of the pituitary cells, the prolactin levels rise to maintain milk production during lactation.
- The prolactin level increases by pituitary tumourstermed as adenomas,
- Hypothyroidism or underactive thyroid, and medications like tranquilizers, andsome medicines taken to control high blood pressure, depression, ulcers, heartburn. Serious mental disorders and menopausal symptoms.
- Chest-wall injuries or other conditions that affect the chest wall, such as shingles
- Other tumors and diseases affecting the pituitary gland, or radiation treatment for tumors on or near the pituitary.
- Chronic liver and kidney diseases.
- Sometimes the cause remains unknown.
Signs and symptoms of hyperprolactinemia
- Hyperprolactinemia can occur both in men and women, but it is not found in children. Women suffering from this condition complain of –
- Vaginal dryness, leading to pain during intercourse
- Problems with the menstrual cycle.
- Production of breast milk without lactation.
Diagnosis of hyperprolactinemia
A blood test is used to detect excess prolactin. Most causes like pregnancy, medications and hypothyroidism are also ruled out by tests. MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) of the brain and pituitary creates images of body tissues, and can reveal a pituitary tumor and show its size. Depending on the size of the tumor, an eye exam is performed to detect loss of peripheral vision.
Treatment for hyperprolactinemia
Treatment is based on the cause. Some people with high prolactin levels, but few or no signs and symptoms, do not need any treatment. The goal of treatment is to get back prolactin secretion to normal, reduce tumor size, correct any visual abnormalities and restore normal pituitary function.
- Medicines work well for most people with prolactinomas. As they help to decrease the production of prolactin.
- Surgery to remove a tumoris done if medicines have not been effective. Surgery is also required if the tumor is affecting vision. The results of surgery depends a great deal on the tumor size and prolactin level
- Radiation is given in rare cases where both medicines and surgeryhave notbeen effectivein such cases radiation is used to shrink the tumor. The type of radiation therapy used will depend on the size and location of the tumor
- When the cause of hyperprolactinemia is not known synthetic thyroid hormone is given to the patient.
Sheehan’s syndrome is a condition that causes the permanent underproduction of essential pituitary hormones.
Causes of sheehan’s syndrome affects women who lose a life-threatening amount of blood or who have severe low blood pressure during or after childbirth which results in partial damage of the pituitary gland situated on the base of the brain. Sheehan’s syndrome is a major threat to women in developing countries.
Symptomsof sheehan’s syndrome include fatigue, loss of pubic and underarm hair, and inability to produce breast milk.For many women, the symptoms are nonspecific and it is diagnosed after the treatment of thyroids or adrenal insufficiency. It is possible for one to remain symptom free with Sheehan’s syndrome depending on the amount of damage to the pituitary gland.Some women live for years not knowing that their pituitary isn’t working properly.
Treatmentfor sheehan’s syndrome is lifelong hormone replacement therapy. Hemorrhage is a rare childbirth complication, however, and Sheehan’s syndrome is even more uncommon. The risk of both can be reduced with proper care during labor and delivery.
Prolactine hormonal issue in young girls
Not only married women or pregnant women suffer from the issue of prolactine hormone disorder. The young girls also suffer from this prolactine disorder. The effect it falls on young girls are complications in menstrual cycle. Even they can become infertile. The periodic cycle issue includes dropping of periodic cycle for a month or two. For other girls, there can be several cycles of menstruation added together with the usual months. It is also very embarrassing when the girls who are not yet pregnant gets the production of breast milk within their body.
[ Hindi version ]
Prolactine hormonal issue in pregnant women
When a woman is pregnant, she has high level of Prolactine. This in turns helps in producing the breast milk inside their body. Even the level of Prolactine increases in a pregnant woman by 10 to 20 times. Even after the women have delivered the child this level becomes higher. But, this height in the level will remain as it is if you are breast feeding your child. But, sometimes after you have stopped feeding your baby with the breast milk, Prolactine level still remains high. This is the stage when you can see abnormality within the individual. The nipple discharge still remains the same. After stopping the breast feeding way back before 8 months, the menstrual cycle still seems to have created disruption. It is important to go ahead with the Prolactine test so that you can be assured whether you have any issue with Prolactine hormone.