PROLACTIN, 2 SPECIMENS
What are the other names for this test?
Prolactin Blood Test, PRL Test, PRL
What is a prolactin test?
A prolactin test helps to determine the prolactin amount in your blood. Prolactin is a hormone developed by your pituitary gland. The pituitary gland is an organ similar to a pea-sized located at the base of the brain. The pituitary gland produces hormones, which help in many body functions and control the other parts of the endocrine system (a system of organs and glands that develop hormones).
Prolactin has the function of developing breast and breast milk in women. High prolactin levels may present in pregnant women or during childbirth. Low prolactin levels in the blood are present in non-pregnant women.
What is the purpose of this test?
A prolactin test may help your doctor to detect symptoms that lead to high or low prolactin levels. You may need this test if your provider thinks you may have a prolactinoma, a tumor in your pituitary gland. This test also monitors the conditions if a person receives treatment for abnormal prolactin levels. A prolactin test may also be ordered repeatedly after treatment to observe whether there is a chance of a comeback of prolactinoma.
When do I need to take this test?
You may need a prolactin test if you have the symptoms of abnormal prolactin levels. High prolactin levels may affect the function of the ovaries and testes. Following are the symptoms for women include:
- Infertility (loss of ability to become pregnant)
- Menopausal signs like hot flashes and dryness of the vagina.
- Discharge of breast milk without being pregnant or having a nursing job.
- Breast pain
- Irregular periods
For women, these symptoms include:
- Low sex drive
- Increase in the size of the breast
- Difficulty to erect
Unexpected headaches and vision issues may also be seen in men and women. You may need to take a prolactin test
if you have experienced prolactinoma and monitor your prolactin levels during the treatment. You can consult a professional healthcare provider to confirm if you have a required prolactin level.
What is the procedure for this test?
A prolactin test
often performs with a blood sample. A healthcare provider may collect blood samples from your finger or vein.
The following are the steps for collecting blood samples from your vein after visiting the laboratory.
How do I need to prepare for this test?
- Sit in front of your provider. Be relaxed and stay in a fixed position. It is difficult for your provider to collect a blood sample if you do the muscle movement.
- Remove the portion of your cloth from the arm and elastic band tie on your upper arm.
- A small needle will inject into a vein in your arm.
- A small amount of blood will collect in a test tube.
- Blood samples will store in the laboratory for examination of an allergy.
- You can go home for regular activities.
- This test usually takes five minutes.
A prolactin test
does not require special preparation. You can inform your provider about the medicines or supplements you are using that may change the thyroid hormone levels. Your provider will instruct you when to stop or take your medications. You can eat or drink before the test. You may need to fast for several hours if your provider asks for an additional blood test. Consult with your doctor
about when to stop taking medication before the test.
Are there any risks involved in this test?
A prolactin test
does not have high risks when you give a blood sample. Veins differ from person to person. Some people or children may have difficulty providing a blood sample compared to others. You may experience low risks when the needle injects into your vein. These risks include
What do the test results indicate?
- Extreme Bleeding
- Slight pain
- Hematoma (Deposition of blood under the skin)
A prolactin test
results depend on many factors, such as age, gender, and medical history. The test results may also slightly differ among laboratories. It is because each lab may use different methods for examination.
The recommended range for prolactin levels in your blood for pregnant and non-pregnant women are 10 to 209 ng/mL and 2 to 29 ng/mL, respectively. The ideal range for men is about 2 to 18 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL).
Men and women have low prolactin levels in their blood. High prolactin levels may develop due to the following conditions:
- Prolactinoma ( A pituitary gland tumor that leads to high prolactin levels)
- Anorexia (Bad eating habits)
- Use of specific drugs to cure depression, high blood pressure, and psychosis.
- Hypothalamus disease. Hypothalamus is part of the brain that regulates the pituitary gland)
- Irritation or injury in the chest
Some other conditions, such as kidney disease, liver disease, and polycystic ovarian syndrome (POS), may also reduce your body functions to eliminate extra prolactin. High prolactin levels are not a concern in pregnant women and in nursing.
Low prolactin levels than recommended show a condition of hypopituitarism in which your pituitary gland does not work in a proper way. Low prolactin levels do not require any treatment. You can review your test result by scheduling an e-consultation
with a provider.
What factors may affect the prolactin test results?
If you have high prolactin levels, this does not mean you always have a medical problem. It is possible that your prolactin levels are higher if you have taken your food or stress before the blood test. Some other factors include extreme exercise, breast exams, high-protein meals, and nipple stimulation (the rubbing process of your nipple in a circular motion).
Some medications may lead to low prolactin levels, including:
What additional tests do I need along with this test?
- Levodopa (Used for Parkinson's disease)
- Ergot alkaloid derivatives (Used in extreme headaches)
- Dopamine (Given to those who are in shock)
Your provider may ask for an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) to get more detailed information about your brain condition if you have experienced prolactinoma (a pituitary gland tumor). A radiologist will use an MRI scan to capture images inside of your brain. You will have to lie down on the MRI scanner. The scanner will slide into the magnetic tube, which produces a magnetic field around you. An MRI also utilizes radio waves to develop images.
Blood tests may also be ordered to see your thyroid and kidney conditions, including
- Thyroid-stimulating hormone
- Blood urea nitrogen