When people think of prolactin, the first thing that comes to mind is likely the role it plays in lactation after childbirth in women. As a result, it’s common for people to overlook the number of other roles this hormone plays, particularly in men. In fact, as well as milk production, prolactin is responsible for regulating the immune system, metabolism, and reproductive systems in both genders so when levels start to fluctuate; it can cause a number of different side effects.

Although prolactin levels tend to naturally rise in women during pregnancy or after childbirth, in men, prolactin levels usually remain quite low. This is why when prolactin levels in men are high, there are a number of potential causes such as medications, an underactive thyroid gland, or prolactinoma: a noncancerous tumor of the pituitary gland [1].

Related article: What Does High Estrogen in Men Mean?



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What causes high prolactin in males?


According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), prolactinoma is the most common type of pituitary gland, making up about 40% of all pituitary tumors [2]. This benign tumor can cause the pituitary to create too much of the prolactin hormone and can result in a decreased level of testosterone in men. Unfortunately, the cause of these tumors isn’t entirely clear and they are less common in men.

Other potential causes of elevated prolactin levels include:


Medication


If you are taking any medicine that affects the production of dopamine, it can have an effect on prolactin production. This means that medicines used to treat mental health conditions, high blood pressure, and pain relievers can all affect your prolactin levels.

If you think your medication may be having an effect on your hormone production, it’s important to speak with your doctor; levels can return to normal within a few days after stopping the medication [3].


Other conditions


As well as an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism), kidney disease, and shingles can all have an effect on your levels of prolactin. If you feel have any of the mentioned conditions and are experiencing signs of high prolactin levels, reach out to your doctor for advice.

Related article: How Can You Promote Hormone Balance?


What are the side effects of high prolactin in males?


According to Mayo Clinic, if elevated levels of prolactin are caused by a prolactinoma, you might not always notice obvious signs or symptoms [4]. However, if the tumor causes pressure on the surrounding tissues, it can cause a number of signs. And because of the important role prolactin plays in the reproductive system, the signs can differ for men and usually include:

  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Decreased body and facial hair
  • Low bone density
  • Low libido
  • Low testosterone production
  • Infertility

Related article: Low Libido in Men: What’s Affecting Your Sex Drive?


What is the role of prolactin in males?


We’re all aware of the important role prolactin plays in milk production, but as we know, this hormone isn’t limited to one function, and although its various functions are still being studied, research suggests that it can regulate:

  • Behavior
  • The immune system
  • Reproduction
  • Metabolism

One of the most reliable ways to know more about your hormone levels is through a blood test. This can be done with your doctor or from home with an at-home lab test.

LetsGetChecked’s range of male at-home hormone tests can give you an overview of your hormonal health to identify potential imbalances and help improve performance. Our dedicated clinical team will be available every step of the way and your online results will be available within 2-5 days.

You should consider taking a test if:

  • You are undergoing chemotherapy or radiation therapy
  • You suffer from Klinefelter syndrome
  • You suffer from type 1 and type 2 diabetes
  • You suffer from hemochromatosis
  • You have a pituitary gland disorder
  • You are obese
  • You suffer from chronic stress
  • You take anabolic steroids
  • You have a family history of low testosterone
  • You suffer from thyroid issues
  • You have kidney or liver disease
  • You have anorexia nervosa

Related article: Erectile Dysfunction: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment Options



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References


1.Mayo Clinic. Prolactinoma. Online: Mayoclinic.org
2. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). Prolactinoma. Online: Niddk.nih.gov
3. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). Prolactinoma. Online: Niddk.nih.gov
4. Mayo Clinic. Prolactinoma. Online: Mayoclinic.org