What Exactly Is Prolactin?
Prolactin is a hormone named originally after its function to promote milk production (lactation) in mammals in response to the suckling of young after birth. It has since been shown to have more than 300 functions in the body. These can be divided into a number of areas: reproductive, metabolic, regulation of fluids (osmoregulation), regulation of the immune system (immunoregulation) and behavioural functions.
In humans, prolactin is produced both in the front portion of the pituitary gland (anterior pituitary gland) and in a range of sites elsewhere in the body. Lactotroph cells in the pituitary gland produce prolactin, where it is stored in small containers called vesicles. Prolactin is released into the bloodstream by a process called exocytosis. Human prolactin is also produced in the uterus, immune cells, brain, breasts, prostate, skin and adipose tissue.
What Is A Prolactinoma (Pituitary Tumour)?
A prolactinoma is a benign tumour (called an adenoma) of the pituitary gland. A prolactinoma produces an excessive amount of the hormone prolactin. Prolactin is a natural hormone which supports a woman’s normal lactation (breastfeeding). Prolactinomas are the most common type of pituitary tumour. Symptoms of prolactinoma are caused by pressure of the tumour on surrounding tissues or by excessive release of prolactin from the tumour into the blood (causing a condition known as hyperprolactinemia).
- A prolactinoma is a benign tumour of the pituitary gland.
- Prolactinomas cause secretion of the hormone prolactin, which stimulates the breast to produce milk.
- The aims of treatment are the reduction of prolactin level to normal, reduction of tumour size, and restoration of normal pituitary function.
- Most prolactinomas occur sporadically with a low risk of recurrence in the family.
- However, some prolactinomas are due to a genetic predisposition and carry a high risk of recurrence.
- The overall success rate in treating prolactinomas is very high. So, if you are currently suffering from this, it’s time to raise your hope.
What Is The Normal Function Of Prolactin?
Prolactin stimulates the breast tissues to enlarge during pregnancy. After delivery of the baby, the mother’s prolactin level falls unless she breastfeeds her infant. Each time the baby nurses from the breasts, prolactin levels rise to maintain milk production.
What Is The Pituitary Gland?
Sometimes called the master gland, the pituitary gland plays a critical role in regulating growth and development, metabolism, and reproduction. This gland produces prolactin and a number of other key hormones including:
- Growth hormone, which as the name indicates, regulates growth;
- ACTH (adrenocorticotropin hormone) which stimulates the adrenal glands to produce cortisol, especially during stressful events (surgery, etc.)
- Thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH), which signals the thyroid gland to produce thyroid hormone; and
- Luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), which regulate ovulation and oestrogen and progesterone production in women, and sperm formation and testosterone production in men.
Where Is The Pituitary Gland Located?
The pituitary gland is located in the middle of the head in a bony box that looks like a saddle and is called the sella turcica. Since the pituitary is in such a tight space, any abnormal growth can result in signs and symptoms secondary to compression of the gland. The nerves for the eyes pass directly above the pituitary gland.
What Problems Are Caused By A Pituitary Tumor?
Pituitary tumours, also known as prolactinomas, may impair or cause an increase in the production of one or more pituitary hormones such as prolactin thereby causing high prolactin level. The lesion itself can damage surrounding normal tissues and thereby reduce the function of the pituitary gland (a condition called hypopituitarism).
Enlargement of the pituitary gland can also cause local symptoms, such as headaches (because of increased pressure if the fluid system bathing the brain is blocked or stimulated), or visual disturbances (because of the proximity of the pituitary gland to the optic nerves).
What Causes A Pituitary Tumour?
Although research continues to find causes of disordered cell growth, the sources of many pituitary tumours, including prolactinomas, still remain unknown.Most pituitary tumours appear sporadically, meaning that no one else in the family has had a pituitary tumour.
Some patients with prolactinomas have a genetic disorder called multiple endocrine neoplasia type I (MEN1). MEN1 is an inherited condition characterized by a high frequency of peptic ulcer disease and abnormal hormone production from the pancreas, parathyroid, and pituitary glands. Prolactinomas are also a characteristic feature of MEN1.
A small number of people have a familial tendency to develop prolactinomas but do not appear to have MEN1. The gene(s) responsible for such cases of prolactinoma have not yet been fully identified.
Symptoms Caused By A High Prolactin Level
In women, high blood levels of prolactin usually interfere with ovulation, causing infertility and changing menstruation. In some women, periods may disappear altogether whereas in others, periods become irregular, or menstrual flow may change noticeably. Women who are not pregnant or nursing may begin producing breast milk. Some women may experience a loss of libido (interest in sex). Intercourse may become painful because of vaginal dryness.
In men, the most common symptom of prolactinoma is impotence. Men have no reliable indicator such as menstruation to signal a problem. Thus, many men delay going to the doctor until they have headaches or vision problems, caused by the enlarged pituitary pressing against the nearby nerves from the eyes. Men may not recognize a gradual loss of sexual function or libido. In fact, only after treatment do some men realize they had a problem with sexual function. As a result of later presentation, men on average, have larger prolactinomas at their presentation than women.
Other Causes Of High Prolactin Level
Other causes of high level of prolactin in the blood include:
- Prescription Drugs: Prolactin secretion in the pituitary is normally suppressed by the brain chemical, dopamine. Drugs that block the effects of dopamine at the pituitary or deplete dopamine stores in the brain may cause the pituitary to secrete prolactin. These drugs include the major tranquilizers trifluoperazine (Stelazine) and haloperidol (Haldol); metoclopramide (Reglan) used to treat gastroesophageal reflux and the nausea caused by certain cancer drugs; and less often, alpha methyldopa and reserpine (Harmonyl) used to control hypertension.
- Other Pituitary Tumours: Other tumours may block the flow of dopamine from the brain, which normally inhibits its prolactin-secreting cells. Such so-called “mixed” tumours arise in or near the pituitary, and include those that release excessive growth hormone (acromegaly) or stimulate cortisol production (Cushing’s syndrome). These can also cause the pituitary to secrete more prolactin.
- Some Nonpituitary Tumuors: Prolactin secretion can also be caused by certain cancers, such as lung cancer.
- Hypothyroidism: Increased prolactin levels are often seen in people with hypothyroidism, and doctors routinely test people with hyperprolactinemia for hypothyroidism.
- Breast stimulation can modestly increase the amount of prolactin in the blood.
- Chest wall trauma (for example, an injury from a car steering wheel after an accident) can lead to increased levels of prolactin.
- Marijuana use is also a well documented cause of elevated levels of prolactin.
How Is A Prolactinoma Treated?
Prolactinomas are usually initially treated with medications. Surgery can also be considered if the medications cannot be tolerated, or if they are not effective. In some cases, medical treatment may be only partially successful. In such cases, the medications may be combined with surgery or radiation therapy.
Is Osteoporosis A Risk In Women With High Prolactin Levels?
Women whose ovaries produce inadequate oestrogen are at an increased risk for osteoporosis. Hyperprolactinemia can cause reduced oestrogen production. Although oestrogen production may be restored after treatment for hyperprolactinemia, even a year or two without oestrogen can decrease the strength of the bones. Women should protect themselves from osteoporosis by regular exercise and increased calcium intake through diet or supplementation, and by avoiding smoking.
Natural Solution To Prolactinoma And High Prolactin Levels
If you currently are suffering from high level of prolactin and this is affecting your fertility, you might want to consider checking out the Hormonal Imbalance Remedy Kit. This Kit has been used to regulate high prolactin level and other reproductive hormone disorders in both women and men.
What Are The Goals Of Treatment For High Prolactin With The Kit?
The goals for treatment of a prolactinoma are to:
- return prolactin secretion to normal,
- reduce tumour size,
- correct any abnormalities,
- restore the normal function of the pituitary gland and
- restore fertility
All these are possible to achieve with the aid of the Hormonal Imbalance Remedy Kit from Plan B Wellness.
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