Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Now I Know

Oh, I am so overwhelmed.

First off, I want to say a huge thank you to Kami! I am so appreciative that a new blog friend would take time out of her day to search prolactin levels on WebMD. I came on the computer to start my seach and BAM-there was all the infomation I needed. Thanks a million!

Here is what WebMD has to say:

What is Prolactin?
Prolactin is a chemical that is secreted by your pituitary gland. This is the pea-sized gland found in the middle of your brain, which is responsible for triggering many of your body's processes. Prolactin is found in both men and women and is released at various times throughout the day and night. Prolactin is generally released in order to stimulate milk production in pregnant women. It also enlarges a woman's mammary glands in order to allow her to prepare for breastfeeding.

Hormones that Affect Prolactin
Like many of your body's other processes, the release of prolactin is actually triggered by other hormones. Hormones affecting prolactin include:

dopamine
serotonin
thyroid-producing hormone

Serotonin and thyroid hormone help to increase prolactin release, whereas dopamine works to block prolactin release.

Prolactin Changes During Pregnancy
When you are pregnant, prolactin changes are completely normal. In fact, your prolactin must increase in order to encourage the production of milk in your mammary glands. During pregnancy your hormones are all over the place. In particular, your estrogen levels begin to rise, and this is what stimulates the increase in your prolactin levels. After birth, as your baby breastfeeds, nipple stimulation will trigger a further increase in prolactin. Prolactin is what allows you to continue breastfeeding for an extended period of time.

Prolactin and Infertility
Prolactin doesn't just cause your body to increase milk production - it also affects your ovulation and menstrual cycles. This is why it is nearly impossible to become pregnant when you are breastfeeding. (In fact, prolactin is 90% effective against pregnancy in the first months after birth).

Prolactin inhibits two hormones necessary to your ovulation: follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and gonadotropin releasing hormone (GnRH). Both of these hormones are responsible for helping your eggs to develop and mature in the ovaries, so that they can be released during ovulation. When you have excess prolactin in your bloodstream, ovulation is not triggered, and you will be unable to become pregnant. Prolactin may also affect your menstrual cycle and the regularity of your periods.

Prolactin Irregularities
If you are having difficulties becoming pregnant, it may be due to an irregularity in your prolactin levels. If your have elevated prolactin, this can inhibit ovulation and menstruation. Prolactin levels can be determined through a simple blood test. Normal prolactin levels in women are somewhere between 30 and 600 mIU/I. If your levels measure towards the high end of this spectrum or above, you may be suffering from a prolactin irregularity.

Types of Irregularities
There are two main types of prolactin irregularities. It is possible to suffer from both at one time.
Galactorrhea
Galactorrhea is a condition in which you begin to produce milk spontaneouly, without being pregnant or having given birth recently. It is a result of high prolactic levels. Other symptoms include

enlarged breasts
painful or tender breasts

irregular menstruation
loss of sex drive
infertility

Hyperprolactinemia
Hyperprolactinemia literally means too much prolactin in the blood. If you have hyperprolactinemia, you may also have galactorrhea, though this is not always the case. Symptoms of high prolactin levels include:

prolactin levels at or above 600 mIU/I-"I dont know my exact number"
infertility
irregular menstruation
headache
reduced sex drive
vision problems

Causes of High Prolactin Levels
There are a few things that may be responsible for your prolactin irregularities. In order to treat your infertility, you will need to determine what is at the bottom of your elevated prolactin levels.

Prolactinoma
Prolactinoma is one of the more common causes of prolactin-induced infertility. Prolactinoma causes a tumor to grow on your pituitary gland. This tumor secretes excess prolactin into your body. About 10% of the population have these tumors. They usually do not pose any health risks, besides infertility, though sometimes they can interfere with vision.

Prescription Drugs
Prescription drugs can cause excess secretion of prolactin. Some anti-depressants, painkillers, and opiates block dopamine, preventing prolactin secretion from being inhibited. This can cause your prolactin levels to rise.

Other Causes
Other more rare causes of prolactin irregularities include:

thyroid disease
polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
shingles

I am trying to take all this information in. My first question is-why wasnt I tested for this before? How is this the ONE test I didn't have done?

I have no idea if this has affected the turn out of my IUI's. I am trying not to get ahead of myself. I want to wait until I get my second blood levels back before I freak out. Who am I kidding, I AM freaking out.

I think that if the level comes back high again, I will have to have an MRI to check the pituatry gland.

I don't know what will happen if that is the case. Will he fix my level and suggest backing up a few steps? I have a feeling in my gut that this will interfere with our IVF cycle. Is this all that is wrong with me? If they fix it, will I get pregnant on my own? So many questions, so few answers.

I am hoping this is a blessing in disguise. I pray that it is. I feel like such a baby. I am scared, no, terrified of what will lie ahead the next few weeks. The possibility of a tumor makes me want to throw up.

11 comments:

Jen, Terry, and Ethan said...

Erin,
This could quite possibly be the only thing that is wrong. It is exactly what was wrong with me and like I said it was easily fixed. And chances are there is no tumor, just unexplained high levels.

Angelwingsbaby said...

Hi hun
My husband suffered from high prolactin levels(yes men have it too)and he had to have a MRI to check for a tumor which turned out fine.(this was not too long ago in 2007, mid to end of the year)This may surprise you and I would assume it may be true for women too, but they said stress was the cause of it.Over time his levels returned to normal on their own.This all happened within a matter of a few months or less.The only thing he has to do is his have an MRI every few years to watch for tumors.Just in case.And have bloodwork done maybe once every year or two now.So maybe yours will turn out to be less serious that what you are thinking.This whole TTC stuff can be way stressful so maybe it has taken its toll on your body a bit.I will say a prayer for you tonight in hopes that it will be nothing serious.HUGS

Sarah said...

My best friend has a prolactinoma... she has to take medicine... to keep it in check... along with occasional MRI's. She has conceived 2 beautiful children despite this... I will be praying for you!
Sarah

Mimi said...

You're welcome sweetie! It's good to know the facts before spending gobs of money on prcedures! I've already been there. LOL Good luck to you. I hope you can get on the wagon again soon so you can have your baby!!!

Kami

beth ewing said...

interesting. i'm wondering now if i've had that test done. i didn't produce enough milk for my son and i dont' ovulate. might be something to check out. i'll be praying there is an easy solution to this problem and you'll be pregnant in no time.

RDgirl said...

Keep us posted! Don't be afraid of the word tumor, it's quite rare. In fact you can have too much prolactin just from excess nipple stimulation. Of course now my hypochondriac side of me will want my RE to check my prolactin levels too!

Caralyn said...

Found your blog through the King Quads' comment section. Just wanted to let you know that I know how hard this is, how overwhelming, and how emotionally draining. But....there is often a light (or lights...) at the end of the tunnel. We were successful the 1st time we did IVF (skipped Clomid and IUI due to problems with both of us) and have a beautiful 6 year old daughter. We went with IVF again 3 1/2 years later and have 2 adorable 20 month old girls. Keep the faith!
:)Caralyn

Ashley said...

I'll be saying a prayer that everything works out and it doesn't interfer with the IVF. It will be okay honey!!

Emily said...

Wow. That is crazy. I wonder why this isn't one of the first tests they do with infertility...

Hala said...

u r right, why this isn't one of the first tests they do with infertility...???

Morjanie said...

Plus, i really wanted to know what happened with u !!!! cause i am having the same thing right now!!!
my prolactine was 600 and there was a tumor and i had to have bromocriptine and still taking it till now.
But what i am concerned more about is that i am still missing my period and when i asked my doctor "when should my period show up agian " she could not give me an answer ...she said all we can do is ti wait until it show up it self!!!!!
what do u think???