You can be diagnosed with hyperprolactinemia when you have more than 15 ng/mL of prolactin in your bloodstream. Symptoms of excess prolactin are often internal and difficult to see.
Symptoms can include:
- decreased sperm count
- hypogonadism (in which your testes do not produce the right amounts of testosterone)
- decreased sex drive
If you have hyperprolactinemia, you will probably show few outward signs, making diagnosis difficult. However, some men with the condition do develop gynecomastia, a condition in which the breasts enlarge and look similar to a woman’s. This is a often a sign of high levels of prolactin.
Causes of High Prolactic Levels
Elevated prolactin levels in men are usually the result of overactive prolactin cells in the pituitary gland. These cells begin to grow into a tumor, called a prolactinoma, on your pituitary gland. Prolactinomas secrete prolactin hormone, and, as a result, can lead to extremely high levels of the hormone in your body.
Prolactinomas in men are often larger than in women, mostly because the symptoms of the disorder are more difficult to recognize in men. In fact, prolactinomas can grow up to 5 cm in width and, if untreated, can leave you permanently infertile.
Symptoms of prolactinoma include:
- sexual dysfunction
- loss of sex drive
- decrease in body hair
- headaches or vision loss (as the tumor presses against the optic nerve in your brain)
Occasionally, other factors may play a role in elevating your prolactin levels. These include:
- prescription medications (like antidepressants and opiates)
- thyroid disease
Treatment for Prolactin Irregularities
If you have hyperprolactinemia that is affecting your fertility, there are treatments available to you. Speak with your health care provider about your options.
- Dopamine-producing medication: these medications can lower prolactin levels and shrink prolactinomas. They often restore fertility.
- Surgery: surgery is sometimes used to reduce the size of a prolactinoma.