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Prolactin

What Affects the Test

Reasons you may not be able to have the test or why the results may not be helpful include:

  • Having a lot of emotional stress or doing strenuous exercise before the test.
  • Trouble sleeping. Prolactin levels are highest during sleep. So if you do not sleep well, your levels may be lower than normal.
  • Stimulating your nipples.
  • Taking certain medicines, such as birth control pills, high blood pressure medicines, tricyclic antidepressants, or medicines for mental illness, such as phenothiazines.
  • Using cocaine.
  • Having a test with radioactive tracer a week before the prolactin test.

What To Think About

  • Men and nonpregnant women normally have low levels of prolactin. The only known problem caused by a lack of prolactin is not being able to make milk after pregnancy. So even people who have an abnormally low level of prolactin are not treated for the condition.
  • Men may have a prolactin test if a man lacks sexual desire or if he has trouble getting an erection (erectile dysfunction). Prolactin levels may be checked when a man's testosterone levels are really low. To learn more, see the topic Testosterone.
  • Treatment for a pituitary gland tumor that is making too much prolactin includes medicines (such as bromocriptine), removing the pituitary gland, or radiation therapy to the gland. The choice of treatment is based on the size of the tumor and the health and age of the person being treated.

Citations

  1. Fischbach FT, Dunning MB III, eds. (2009). Manual of Laboratory and Diagnostic Tests, 8th ed. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.

Other Works Consulted

  • Fischbach FT, Dunning MB III, eds. (2009). Manual of Laboratory and Diagnostic Tests, 8th ed. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.

  • Pagana KD, Pagana TJ (2010). Mosby’s Manual of Diagnostic and Laboratory Tests, 4th ed. St. Louis: Mosby Elsevier.

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Deborah A. Penava, BA, MD, FRCSC, MPH - Obstetrics and Gynecology
Current as of August 1, 2012
1 | 2 | 3

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: August 01, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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