Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Prolactin Level

For the first time in my TTC journey, I recieved a phone call stating something was not right. I had my prolactin level tested when I went to the doctors last Friday. It was the one blood test that needed to be done for IVF that hadnt been drawn before my IUI's. The nurse called this morning to say the levels were elevated. I am going in this Friday to get re-tested. I am supposed to fast from midnight the night before. She also said to avoid nipple stimulation for three days, as that affects the level. She said if it is still high, they will put me on medicine until I got pregnant.

I don't know much about this hormone. I tried to look on WebMD and it said a lot about lactating women. I am obviously not one of those. Perhaps this is why my boobs have seemed so big lately..

I'm not sure how I feel about the news. I kind of feel relieved that they finally found something wrong. It has driven me nuts that everything has come back normal. Until now..

On the other hand, I hope its something that is fixed easily! Or the test comes back with the right level.

If you know anything about prolactin, please inform me! I will browse websites later today.


Mimi said...

I don't know anything but I wanted to come on here and wish you luck sweetie!!!


Mimi said...

Ok, I found this....

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:

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 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

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
irregular menstruation
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 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)

Happily Ever After said...

Wow, so if your level is still elevated, you will get on meds to regulate it, and not do IVF? That seems like it would be an easy fix...right? :) Or if your levels are not elevated, you will continue on with IVF?

Jen, Terry, and Ethan said...


I left a message and it isn't showing so please feel free to e-mail me at jenn underscore levin at hotmail dot com. I also had high prolactin so please contact me.

Ashley said...

THis might be too much info but...I had to get my prolactin tested because I was having nipple discharge. It came back okay...they still don't know why it happened. I hope your everything comes back okay!! GOod luck:)

Dan and Gretchen said...

After reading what Mimi posted about the infertility aspect of elevated prolactin levels...I can't help but question whether or not that has anything to do with the IUI's not taking. Did they happen to mention anything to you about it?

Best of luck with whichever path this takes you down.

Susann said...

My husband and I were TTC for 6 years!!! Finally after about 4 1/2 years I changed doctors and he kind of wanted to start from scratch as far as testing went. Before then we had pretty much been told that everything looked fine...just weren't getting pregnant. My new doctor tested my prolactin levels right off the bat and diagnosed me with hyperprolactinemia. He put me on a medication called Parlodel. I took 1/2 pill in morning and 1/2 at night. I can't say FOR SURE that this was the "cure" for us, but we were able to get pregnant on our own after about 1 year on Parlodel. Our son is now 2 years old.

I hope this information might be helpful to you or at least give you some hope. Best wishes to you.