The prolactin test is a basic hormone test that checks for the level of prolactin in the blood. Prolactin is a hormone mostly found in women and plays a major role in childbirth and lactation. So, prolactin is seen in the high range, mostly in women who are pregnant and new mothers. Sometimes, prolactin levels are high in nonpregnant women and men. In such cases, the patients have to check for prolactin levels and show the results to their doctors to make further diagnosis and treatment possible. The elevated levels of prolactin or lower levels in the blood indicate some kind of disease or disorder. Mostly, prolactin tests are recommended for patients who are struggling with infertility.
When does the doctor suggest a prolactin test?
Certain types of diagnosis can happen with the help of a prolactin test. The conditions for which a prolactin test is necessary are as follows-
- Tumor of the pituitary gland- The prolactin hormone is secreted from the pituitary gland. So, a prolactin test is recommended for the proper diagnosis of any kind of dysfunction or tumor growth of the pituitary gland. The doctor suggests such a test for the detection of prolactinoma.
- Irregular menstrual cycles– The prolactin test is also done when the woman is experiencing irregularity in the menstrual cycle. Prolactin is a sex hormone that shows fluctuations during the menstrual cycle. Monitoring the levels of prolactin can show the cause of irregular menstrual cycles.
- Loss of libido in men- Andrologists recommend even men prolactin tests under some circumstances. If a man has erectile dysfunction and performance issues, the doctor often suggests a prolactin test.
The signs of prolactin fluctuation, such as milk discharge from breasts without pregnancy and nipple discharge, also create the need for a prolactin test. The patient should first visit a gynecologist or an andrologist for consultation. After the consultation, the tests might include the PRL test panel too.
Even in men, the observation of signs such as sudden enlargement in the size of the breasts and low libido leads to a suggestion of a prolactin test. The doctor might suggest testosterone level tests along with the prolactin test for males. The long-term observation of these symptoms and signs needs a test of prolactin levels.
What is the prolactin test procedure?
The procedure of the prolactin test is very simple and does not create any complications for the patient. The test is done on a collected blood sample from the patient. The patient has to give a blood sample at a good laboratory or hospital facility.
A phlebotomist will collect the blood sample with an intravenous syringe and collect the sample in a vial. When this process happens, the patient usually feels a little sting and pain in the area. However, the discomfort and pain go away after some time. Some people might see some kind of bruising in the area of blood collection. However, the bruising goes away with time. After the test results are out, the doctor interprets the results based on the range of prolactin volume.
The average cost of a prolactin test ranges from Rs 200 to Rs 600 for a patient.
What is the normal and abnormal range of prolactin in blood?
Prolactin is measured in the blood by ng/ML or ng/L. The normal range of prolactin is different for males, females, and pregnant women.
In males, the prolactin levels in the blood should ideally be 2 to 18 ng/mL. In females who are not pregnant, the level of prolactin should be 2 to 29 ng/mL. For pregnant women, the level of prolactin in blood should fall between 10 to 209 ng/mL. The range of 50-100 ng/ml is seen as elevated to a moderate level for women. The level of 200 ng/ml shows that the prolactin level is elevated to a high level. If the level of prolactin in the blood is 50,000 ng/ml, it indicates a tumor’s growth in the pituitary gland. Based on the test results and range, the person is diagnosed with either prolactinoma, hypothyroidism, or liver disease.
Sometimes, patients see a drop in prolactin levels. If the prolactin levels fall under the normal range, the pituitary gland is dysfunctional. Lower prolactin levels are usually not alarming and can be improved with lifestyle changes. Higher levels of prolactin require treatment so that diseases are prevented.
The prolactin test can be a suggestion for both men and women. The hormone affects fertility and reproductive functions for both genders. Sometimes, the doctor will suggest other hormone tests along with prolactin tests. In many cases, prolactin elevation does not need treatment. The treatment approach depends on the final diagnosis from the test.
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