Prolactin is a hormone produced by the pituitary gland. The hormone helps promote breast milk production (lactation). Along with estrogen and progesterone, prolactin stimulates milkproduction during pregnancy. After childbirth, it helps in initiating and maintaining breast milk supply. Prolactin hormone is usually present in low amounts in non-pregnant women and men. Abnormal levels of this hormone point towards various health issues in both men and women. A simple blood test is recommended to measure prolactin levels.

Why is the test ordered?

A prolactin hormone test, along with other tests, is helpful in detecting the cause of galactorrhea (breast milk production in non-pregnant women); irregular menstruation or infertility in women. The test may also be recommended for men to determine the cause of infertility and erectile dysfunction. Besides, the test is also useful in assessing pituitary gland function, detecting and diagnosing prolactinomas (tumours that produce excess prolactin) and monitoring their treatment.

When is the test recommended?

The test may be recommended if a woman is presented with irregular periods or infertility and a man with infertility, low libido, and low testosterone levels or nipple discharge. The testmay be ordered when a person has symptoms associated with prolactinomas, such as an unexplained headache, nipple discharge, and visual impairment.

How is the sample collected?

A blood sample is drawn from a vein in the arm.

How to prepare for the test?

No special preparations are required for the test. Follow the instructions given by your doctor.

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