What is Prolactin
Prolactin is a hormone involved in the production of breast milk, the regulation of the menstrual cycle, and the development of various reproductive organs. It is produced by the pituitary gland and is secreted into the bloodstream.
Non-lactating, non-pregnant adults, as well as those who were assigned male at birth (AMAB), typically have low prolactin levels. Expectant mothers and nursing mothers typically have higher levels (chestfeeding).
In general, the following are considered normal prolactin levels:
- Less than 20 ng/mL for those designated male at birth (nanograms per milliliter).
- Less than 25 ng/mL for female-at-birth individuals who are not pregnant or breastfeeding.
- 80 to 400 ng/mL for pregnant and breastfeeding women.
What is Hyperprolactinemia
Hyperprolactinemia is a condition in which there are abnormally high levels of prolactin in the blood. This can be caused by various conditions, including pregnancy, certain medications, and pituitary tumors.
Symptoms of hyperprolactinemia include irregular periods, difficulty becoming pregnant, and galactorrhea (milky discharge from the breasts). Treatment of hyperprolactinemia typically involves correcting the underlying condition.
Fertility concerns connected to menstrual cycles have been linked with prolactin levels. Prolactin levels are partially regulated by hormones such as dopamine, which makes you feel motivated and cheerful. When dopamine levels are low, prolactin levels may rise. Typically, prolactin levels rise during pregnancy and stimulate lactation following delivery. Prolactin levels then decline when lactation is no longer required.
How common is hyperprolactinemia?
Less than 1% of the general population suffers with hyperprolactinemia. The most prevalent cause of hyperprolactinemia is a benign (noncancerous) prolactin-releasing tumor called a prolactinoma. The incidence of prolactinoma is approximately 30 cases per 100,000 females and 10 cases per 100,000 males.
Pituitary Gland Function and Prolactinoma
Even though there are other causes of elevated prolactin, the most frequent is a benign pituitary gland tumor termed a prolactinoma. Prolactinomas are benign, meaning they are not malignant. However, they can still pose issues because they secrete high prolactin levels. Prolactinomas can sometimes grow large enough to push on neighboring structures, such as the optic nerve, resulting in vision issues or headaches.
If elevated prolactin levels are caused by a prolactinoma, treatment typically reduces prolactin levels and decreases the tumor. The most common medications are dopamine agonists, drugs that help produce more dopamine. These drugs act on dopamine receptors and stop prolactin release from the pituitary gland.
Symptoms of elevated prolactin may include:
- Missing or irregular periods (amenorrhea)
- Anovulation (when no egg is released)
- Galactorrhea (when the breasts produce milk without a pregnancy) (where the breasts produce milk without a pregnancy) or nipple discharge
- PMS, particularly affective symptoms
- Tender breasts
- Vaginal dryness
- Warm flashes
- Hirsutism (excess hair growth on the face, chest, or back) (excess hair growth on the face, chest, or back)
However, it is also possible to have a high prolactin level without experiencing any symptoms, especially if you have previously experienced menopause.
How Prolactin and the Menstrual Cycle Work Together
High levels of prolactin can stop estrogen from being released normally, which can cause problems with the menstrual cycle.
Estrogen is a crucial menstrual cycle regulator. If your prolactin level is high and your estrogen level stays low, you might not have periods or ovulate. Some of the symptoms, like hot flashes, night sweats, and dryness in the genital area, are similar to those of menopause. This is because the lack of estrogen is caused by the high prolactin.
What causes elevated levels of prolactin?
Multiple factors can contribute to elevated prolactin levels. Since pregnancy and breastfeeding are the most common causes of elevated prolactin, if you are not pregnant or nursing, you should investigate more.
Stress: There are numerous potential processes by which stress might increase prolactin levels. The stress hormone cortisol can stimulate the pituitary gland to release prolactin. The pituitary gland can become inflamed as a result of stress, which may result in the secretion of prolactin. Stress can interfere with the natural feedback processes that regulate the pituitary gland’s prolactin output.
Thyroid health: There are many possible mechanisms by which thyroid dysfunction may lead to high prolactin levels. The hormone thyrotropin-releasing hormone (TRH) stimulates the release of prolactin from the pituitary gland.Thyroid hormone plays a role in the feedback mechanisms that regulate prolactin release from the pituitary gland.Thyroid dysfunction can cause inflammation of the pituitary gland, which may lead to the release of prolactin.
Diet: Eating a healthy diet and maintaining a healthy body weight is important for regulating hormone levels, including prolactin. Certain vitamin deficiencies, such as a lack of vitamin B6, can contribute to high prolactin levels. Undereating can also lead to increased stress hormone levels, which can increase prolactin production.
Medications: Certain medications, including some antipsychotics and antidepressants, can raise prolactin levels. In some cases, this elevation is dose-related and may resolve when the dose is lowered or the medication is stopped. In other cases, the elevation may be unrelated to the dose and may require switching to a different medication.
PCOS: There is no known direct relationship between PCOS and hyperprolactinemia. However, PCOS may indirectly contribute to hyperprolactinemia through its effects on body weight and insulin levels. Obesity is a known risk factor for hyperprolactinemia, and insulin resistance is thought to play a role in the development of PCOS.
Other causes of hyperprolactinemia include:
- Cirrhosis, or severe scarring of the liver
- Acid H2 blockers, like cimetidine (Tagamet)…
- Antihypertensive medications, such as verapamil (Calan, Isoptin, and Verelan)
- Antidepressant drugs such as desipramine (Norpramin) and clomipramine (Anafranil)
- Cushing syndrome, which can result from high levels of the hormone cortisol
- Infection, tumor, or trauma of the hypothalamus
- Anti-nausea medication such as metoclopramide (Primperan, Reglan)
Natural Ways to Reduce Prolactin Levels
There are several natural ways to reduce prolactin levels. These include:
Manage Levels of Stress
Stress can increase prolactin concentrations. Chronically increased cortisol levels can wreak havoc on your hormones, including prolactin, thyroid, sex hormones, and blood sugar
You can handle stress with yoga, meditation, spending time in nature, or any other relaxing activity. You can also try magnesium, omega-3 fatty acids, and adaptogenic herbs such as Ashwagandha or Rhodiola Rosea.
- Get Plenty of Rest
- Lack of sleep can lead to chronic stress and in turn, higher prolactin levels. Make sure to get 7-8 hours of sleep every night. If you have trouble sleeping, try magnesium, chamomile tea, or lavender oil before bed.
- Eat a Healthy Diet
- A healthy diet is important for managing stress and ensuring adequate nutrient intake. Include plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole
Nourish Your Thyroid
Hypothyroidism can increase prolactin levels. This is because the thyroid gland produces a hormone that helps regulate prolactin production. When the thyroid gland is not functioning properly, it can lead to an increase in prolactin levels.
Additionally, hypothyroidism can cause goiters, which can also put pressure on the pituitary gland and lead to an increase in prolactin levels. There is no cure for hypothyroidism, but it can be treated with medication. The most common medication used to treat hypothyroidism is levothyroxine.
If you have hypothyroidism, it is important to take your medication as prescribed and to have your thyroid hormone levels checked regularly.
- Selenium is an important mineral for thyroid function. It is needed for the production of thyroid hormones. Additionally, selenium helps to protect the thyroid gland from damage. The best food sources of selenium are Brazil nuts (depending on the quality of the soil in which they were cultivated), seafood, and meats. You can also get selenium from supplements, but it is always best to get nutrients from whole foods.
- Zinc is an important mineral for thyroid function. It is needed for the production of thyroid hormones. Additionally, zinc helps to protect the thyroid gland from damage. The best food sources of zinc are oysters, meat, pumpkin seeds, and garbanzo beans. You can also get zinc from supplements, but it is always best to get nutrients from whole foods.
Use Vitex (Chasteberry)
Vitex, often known as chasteberry, is a fruit that has been used for generations to maintain hormonal equilibrium. Vitex can help reduce prolactin levels by normalizing pituitary gland prolactin output. It can bind to dopamine receptors to decrease prolactin levels. I usually recommend this supplement to my clients with hormone abnormalities.
Drink Less Alcohol (Especially Beer)
Some midwife recommended beer to boost milk supply. There is no definitive answer to this as it has not been extensively studied. However, there are some anecdotal reports of women who say that drinking beer increased their breast milk supply. It is unclear if this is due to the alcohol content of the beer or other factors. Some say that is because beer is brewed with barley, a grain that has been shown to increase prolactin levels in the body. Those with healthy prolactin levels probably can drink beer without issue. But if your levels are greater, you should probably avoid beer. But if you have higher levels, it’s best to avoid beer or at least limit your consumption.
Foods high in zinc should be eaten.
Deficiencies in zinc have been linked in animal studies to increased levels of the hormone prolactin. Zinc reduces prolactin by inhibiting the release of dopamine. Dopamine is a hormone that regulates prolactin release from the pituitary gland. When dopamine levels are high, prolactin levels are low. When dopamine levels are low, prolactin levels are high. Oysters, sirloin, pumpkin seeds, and chickpeas are all excellent food choices that contain zinc.
Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) is essential for the production of dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter with many functions in the body, one of which is to inhibits prolactin release. Therefore, by increasing dopamine levels, vitamin B6 can decrease prolactin levels.
A study of 23 participants with prolactin-secreting pituitary tumors found that pyridoxine was able to decrease prolactin levels.
Supplemental vitamin B6 is also accessible. In order to maintain a healthy hormonal equilibrium, I suggest taking a supplement that combines magnesium and vitamin B6.
Vitamin B6 is easily obtainable through diet or dietary supplements. Chicken, fish, potatoes, bananas, and beans are all good choices because they contain vitamin B6.
High levels of prolactin can cause a number of problems, including: in women, it can cause irregular periods, infertility, and decreased libido.
In men, it can cause decreased libido, erectile dysfunction, and enlarged breasts. If you have too much prolactin in your body, you can help it in many ways.
Dietary supplements like vitex, magnesium, vitamin B6, and zinc can all help lower prolactin levels.
You can also make changes to the way you live, like getting enough sleep, keeping your stress under control, and drinking less alcohol. Finally, if you want to use natural hormones to balance your prolactin levels, consult a specialist.