Prolactin: What it is and it's Connection to Male Sexual Function
Posted By: Dr. Gary Bellman on November 3, 2017
Hyperprolactinemia is the name for higher-than-normal blood levels of the hormone prolactin. This hormone is made by the pituitary gland, which is located at the base of the brain. The main function of prolactin is to stimulate breast milk production after childbirth. High prolactin levels are normal during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
In other cases, prolactin can become too high because of a disease or the use of certain medications. Often, the cause is a prolactin-making tumor on the pituitary gland, called a prolactinoma. This tumor is often benign, meaning not cancerous. More importantly, a finding should still cause concern because an individual with a large prolactinoma may have headaches and/or vision problems. This is because the optic nerve, which is needed for sight, is near the pituitary. It is more common in women than men and rarely, children and adolescents develop prolactinomas. Other brain tumors may also cause the pituitary gland to make too much prolactin.
Men with low prolactin sometimes have more issues with sexual health, as well as psychological health, while men with lower than average levels of prolactin, although still within the normal range, reported that their sexual issues were getting worse, including their ability to orgasm.
Low prolactin has also been linked with other health issues, such as a high body mass index and lower levels of exercise, as well as just generally feeling unhealthier.
How is this condition diagnosed?
Prolactin can be measured with a blood test and most often, a single blood test is all that is needed. Get your prolactin checked!
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