Hyperprolactinemia

Hyperprolactinemia is the excessive production of the hormone prolactin. (In women, prolactin causes the production of milk and suppresses ovulation.) In men, abnormal prolactin levels can lead to sexual dysfunction. It can be symptomatic of hypothyroidism (a condition in which the body lacks or has low levels of thyroid hormone).

Symptoms

In men, hyperprolactinemia may be associated with decreased libido, impotence, visual disturbances, gynecomastia (breast development) or reduced beard growth.

Causes

Hyperprolactinemia can be triggered by several factors such as:

  • Tumours on the pituitary gland (called prolactinomas)
  • Thyroid gland disorder
  • Surgical scars on the chest wall and other chest wall lesions
  • Medications, including some tranquilizers, high blood pressure medications, and psychiatric medications
Treatment

A blood test can detect elevated prolactin levels. An MRI of the head may be warranted to rule out a pituitary tumour, especially if you are experiencing symptoms such as blurred vision.

Both drug and surgical methods can be used to treat hyperprolactinemia:

  • Bromocriptine is used to reduce excessive prolactin levels.
  • Surgery is used to remove tumours in the small percentage of patients who cannot tolerate, or do not respond to drug therapy.

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