Prolactin is just one of many hormones that play an important role in regulating your reproductive and sexual health. You can get a prolactin test to check whether your prolactin levels are within a normal range. But who should get this test done, and what does it entail?
Read this article to learn more about what a prolactin hormone test is and what to expect when you get one.
What is a prolactin test?
As its name suggests, a prolactin test is used to measure the levels of prolactin hormone in your blood. According to MedlinePlus, prolactin is produced by the pituitary gland, which is a very small gland located at the base of your skull. This hormone plays a role in the development of breast tissue, and in milk production after childbirth.
According to the University of Rochester Medical Center, this test is also known as a PRL test.
Do you have to fast for a prolactin blood test?
You don’t have to do any special preparation for this test, including fasting. But according to Nemours Children’s Health, your doctor may ask you to take the sample at a specific time of the day — typically within a few hours of waking up. This is because prolactin levels naturally fluctuate throughout the day.
The sample for a prolactin test is a simple blood sample taken from a vein. Prolactin test results are usually available within 1 to 2 days.
Prolactin blood test range results
According to Mount Sinai, normal prolactin test results will vary depending on your gender and whether or not you’re pregnant or lactating. Normal test results for prolactin are:
- Men: less than 20 ng/mL (425 µg/L)
- Nonpregnant women: less than 25 ng/mL (25 µg/L)
- Pregnant women: 80 to 400 ng/mL (80 to 400 µg/L)
However, it’s important to keep in mind that reference values can vary slightly between laboratories. You should seek assistance from a medical professional in order to interpret prolactin hormone test results.
What causes an abnormal prolactin test result?
Since prolactin is very important for breastfeeding and milk production after the birth of a baby, it probably won’t come as a surprise to learn that pregnant and breastfeeding women. Men and women who aren’t pregnant should have lower levels of this hormone.
Some of the causes that can lead to abnormal high prolactin levels include:
- Injury or irritation affecting the chest wall
- Hypothalamus diseases
- Kidney disease
- A tumor in the pituitary gland that secretes prolactin (prolactinoma)
- Other types of pituitary tumors or diseases
- Hypothyroidism, or an underactive thyroid gland
- Macroprolactin, a condition in which your body clears prolactin molecules abnormally
- Certain medications, such as antidepressants, estrogen, opiates, and some high blood pressure medications
According to the Cleveland Clinic, other causes can lead to temporary increases in your prolactin levels, including:
As we mentioned above, it’s important to discuss your test results with your healthcare provider so you can identify the cause of the problem. You can visit STDWatch.com now to learn more about other topics on reproductive and sexual health, including STD testing.
Prolactin Levels - medlineplus.gov
Prolactin (Blood) - urmc.rochester.edu
Blood Test: Prolactin - kidshealth.org
Prolactin blood test - mountsinai.org
Prolactin - my.clevelandclinic.org