“You have an abundance of prolactin,” my doctor stated during my last appointment. Prolactin, what?! Don’t you mean progesterone, testosterone, thyroid???? Up until my 36th year, I had never heard of this hormone and certainly had no idea what it was for or the many issues it can cause in your body.
Wikipedia’s definition states that Prolactin “also known as luteotropic hormone or luteotropin, is a protein that is best known for its role in enabling mammals, usually females, to produce milk.” Wikipedia goes on to state that it “is secreted from the pituitary gland in response to eating, mating, estrogen treatment, ovulation and nursing.” Synopsis: it is responsible for lactation. Well, as a woman who has never been pregnant, this shouldn’t be something I should be concerned about, right?! Wrong!
An increased amount of prolactin can affect the body significantly. In women too much prolactin can cause:
- Irregular menstrual periods/or no menstrual periods
- Milky discharge from the breasts when not pregnant or breast-feeding
- Acne and excessive body and facial hair growth
Women, you aren’t alone. Too much prolactin can affect the men in our lives as well. In males it can cause:
- Erectile dysfunction
- Decreased body and facial hair
- Uncommonly, enlarged breasts
In both sexes, it can cause:
- Low bone density
- Loss of interest in sexual activity
- Visual disturbances
The body never ceases to amaze me and the craziest thing about too much prolactin is that it can be caused by tumors on your pituitary gland (you know, that small gland that sits at the base of your brain….that basically controls all of the other hormones in your body!!!). Most of the time, the tumors are benign but need to be lessened with medication or surgical removal.
Long story short, if you have any of these symptoms, make sure to ask your doctor to check your prolactin levels with a simple blood test. Listen to your body; it will tell you if something is wrong.
In the meantime, spread the awareness about this ignored, yet crucial, hormone…PROLACTIN!!!!!