St. Luke's Hospital
Main Number: 314-434-1500 Emergency Dept: 314-205-6990 Patient Billing: 888-924-9200
Find a Physician Payment Options Locations & Directions
Follow us on: facebook twitter Mobile Email Page Email Page Print Page Print Page Increase Font Size Decrease Font Size Font Size
America's 50 Best Hospitals
Meet the Doctor
Spirit of Women
Community Health Needs Assessment
Home > Health Information

Multimedia Encyclopedia

    Print-Friendly
    Bookmarks

    Prolactin

    PRL

    Prolactin is a hormone released by the pituitary gland. The prolactin test measures the amount of prolactin in the blood.

    How the Test is Performed

    A blood sample is needed. For information on how this is done, see: Venipuncture

    How to Prepare for the Test

    No special preparation is necessary.

    How the Test Will Feel

    When the needle is inserted to draw blood, some people feel moderate pain, while others feel only a prick or stinging sensation. Afterward, there may be some throbbing.

    Why the Test is Performed

    Prolactin is a hormone released by the pituitary gland that stimulates breast development and milk production in women. There is no known normal functionfor prolactin in men.

    Prolactin is usually measured when checking for pituitary tumors and the cause of:

    • Breast milk production that is not related to childbirth (galactorrhea)
    • Decreased sex drive (libido) in men and women
    • Impotence
    • Infertility
    • Irregular or no menstrual periods (amenorrhea)

    Normal Results

    The normal values for prolactin are:

    • Males: 2 - 18 ng/mL
    • Nonpregnant females: 2 - 29 ng/mL
    • Pregnant women: 10 - 209 ng/mL

    The examples aboveare common measurements for results for these tests. Normal value ranges may vary slightly among different laboratories. Some lab use different measurements or may test different specimens.Talk to your doctor about the meaning of your specific test results.

    Note: ng/mL = nanograms per milliliter

    What Abnormal Results Mean

    People with the following conditions may have high prolactin levels:

    • Chest wall trauma or irritation
    • Hypothalamic disease
    • Hypothyroidism
    • Kidney disease
    • Pituitary tumor that makes prolactin (prolactinoma)
    • Other pituitary tumors and diseases

    Certain medications can also raise prolactin levels, including:

    • Antidepressants
    • Butyrophenones
    • Estrogens
    • H2 blockers
    • Methyldopa
    • Metoclopramide
    • Phenothiazines
    • Reserpine
    • Risperidone
    • Verapamil

    If your prolactin levels are high, the test may be repeated in the early morning after an 8-hour fast.

    Risks

    Veins and arteries vary in size from one patient to another and from one side of the body to the other. Obtaining a blood sample from some people may be more difficult than from others.

    Other risks associated with having blood drawn are slight but may include:

    • Excessive bleeding
    • Fainting or feeling light-headed
    • Hematoma (blood accumulating under the skin)
    • Infection (a slight risk any time the skin is broken)

    Considerations

    The following can temporarily increase prolactin levels:

    • Emotional or physical stress (occasionally)
    • High-protein meals
    • Intense breast stimulation
    • Recent breast exam
    • Recent exercise

    References

    Melmed S, Kleinberg D. Anterior pituitary. In: Kronenberg HM, Melmed S, Polonsky KS, Larsen PR, eds. Williams Textbook of Endocrinology. 11th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier; 2008:chap 8.

    Molitch ME. Anterior pituitary. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 231.

    BACK TO TOP

          A Closer Look

            Tests for Prolactin

            Review Date: 9/17/2012

            Reviewed By: Louis S. Liou, MD, PhD, Chief of Urology, Cambridge Health Alliance, Visiting Assistant Professor of Surgery, Harvard Medical School. Previously reviewed by Nancy J. Rennert, MD, Chief of Endocrinology & Diabetes, Norwalk Hospital, Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network (12/11/2011).

            The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
            adam.com

            A.D.A.M. content is best viewed in IE9 or above, Fire Fox and chrome browser.


            Back  |  Top
            About Us
            Contact Us
            History
            Mission
            Locations & Directions
            Quality Reports
            Annual Reports
            Honors & Awards
            Community Health Needs
            Assessment

            Newsroom
            Services
            Brain & Spine
            Cancer
            Heart
            Maternity
            Orthopedics
            Pulmonary
            Sleep Medicine
            Urgent Care
            Women's Services
            All Services
            Patients & Visitors
            Locations & Directions
            Find a Physician
            Tour St. Luke's
            Patient & Visitor Information
            Contact Us
            Payment Options
            Financial Assistance
            Send a Card
            Mammogram Appointments
            Health Tools
            My Personal Health
            mystlukes
            Spirit of Women
            Health Information & Tools
            Clinical Trials
            Health Risk Assessments
            Employer Programs -
            Passport to Wellness

            Classes & Events
            Classes & Events
            Spirit of Women
            Donate & Volunteer
            Giving Opportunities
            Volunteer
            Physicians & Employees
            For Physicians
            Remote Access
            Medical Residency Information
            Pharmacy Residency Information
            Physician CPOE Training
            Careers
            Careers
            St. Luke's Hospital - 232 South Woods Mill Road - Chesterfield, MO 63017 Main Number: 314-434-1500 Emergency Dept: 314-205-6990 Patient Billing: 888-924-9200
            Copyright © St. Luke's Hospital Website Terms and Conditions  |  Privacy Policy  |  Patient Notice of Privacy Policies PDF Sitemap St. Luke's Mobile