· Erectile dysfunction
· Decreased body hair
· Decreased muscle mass
· Boys may have delayed puberty and low testosterone levels
A person with a large prolactinoma may encounter headaches and sight problems due to the pressure of or injury by the tumor to the optic nerve, which is near the pituitary gland. Yet, even though these symptoms are commonly found in those with prolactinoma, there may be no indications of the tumor.
Hyperprolactinemia is detected with a blood test that measures the prolactin level. Usually, only one test is required to find the problem and the doctor will check to ensure that any medications a person may be taking are not causing an increase in prolactin levels.
The Various Possible Causes of High Prolactin Levels
Another cause of excess prolactin in the system is an underactive thyroid gland, called hypothyroidism. Thyroid hormone levels are checked by a blood test and if the doctor thinks there is a tumor, an MRI of the brain and pituitary gland is done to confirm the suspicion.
For women of childbearing age, the first thing the doctor will rule out is pregnancy, which naturally causes prolactin levels to rise. Kidney or liver disease can also raise prolactin levels, so a medical history is necessary to rule out the possibilities of either of these diseases. Medications, as mentioned earlier, can have an effect upon prolactin levels. Some that can cause the levels to rise include:
· Opiate painkillers
· Metoclopramide (for heartburn or gastro reflux)
· Antipsychotics (for serious mental illness)
· Some medications for high blood pressure
· Medications for depression
· Medications for ulcers
Treating Infertility Condition
If a person does not have serious symptoms, then treatment may not be necessary. Depending upon the cause of the rise in prolactin levels, treatment may be as simple as changing medications. Such is the case with medicine-induced hyperprolactinemia.
However, if, after a time off the medicines, the levels remain high using another type of drug is the next step. Sometimes estrogen or testosterone treatments are given to men and women who are present with infertility, low sex drive and low bone mass.
To treat prolactinoma, a tumor on the pituitary gland, the treatment begins with a prescription medicine to lower prolactin production thereby shrinking the tumor's size. Usually, the tumor will die within a two-year period and the individual will be weaned off the medication. If the tumor doesn't shrink, then a higher dose of medication may be used. Surgery is a last resort and often is not necessary.
Learn more about the many facets of prolactin and how they affect fertility in this section.