Fertility is a very complex bodily process, and any hormonal imbalances can keep your body from functioning normally. Hyperprolactinemia is a somewhat rare hormonal issue that can make it hard for both men and women to remain fertile. If you have been struggling to get pregnant, it may be worth considering whether you or your partner have this issue. Here are some essential things to know about this health condition.
What Is Hyperprolactinemia?
Hyperprolactinemia is a health condition that occurs when a person has higher than usual levels of prolactin in their bloodstream. Prolactin is a hormone that your body uses to regulate breast milk production once a child is born. However, both men and women need some prolactin to function normally. It helps to regulate the production of estrogen, testosterone, and other hormones that affect fertility. However, too much can end up causing some problems.
A malfunction in the pituitary gland typically causes excess prolactin. This small organ responsible for producing many essential hormones. If a person has a tumor or growth on this gland, it can begin producing too much prolactin. This is the most common cause of the condition. You may also end up with too much prolactin as a side effect of blood pressure medication, antidepressants, antipsychotics, heartburn medication, painkillers, and other common medications. Certain other health conditions, like hypothyroidism, liver disease, kidney disease, shingles, or chest injuries can also affect your prolactin levels.
Signs That You Have Hyperprolactinemia
It is possible to have this condition without any symptoms, so you may feel perfectly fine. However, both men and women typically have a decreased sex drive and may struggle with infertility. They may also have some loss of bone density, which results in bones that break too easily. If a tumor is the cause of the condition, it may also result in some headaches or vision changes.
The primary signs of having too much prolactin can vary a little depending on gender. Women tend to have vaginal dryness that can make intercourse painful. Those with excess prolactin may also have irregular periods or stop having their periods altogether. Even when they are not pregnant or nursing, they may notice that they are producing breast milk. Men with excess prolactin often have erectile dysfunction and enlarged breasts. They may also find that their amount of body hair and muscle mass decreases over time.
Treatment Options at Advanced Reproductive Center
To find the right hyperprolactinemia treatment option for you, you should get a diagnosis that provides clues about the cause of the illness. Your doctor will need to test your hormone levels first to see if hypothyroidism is causing the extra prolactin. Your doctor may also recommend MRIs to check for pituitary tumors. Once you discover the cause, it will be time to decide on treatments. For some people, treatment may be as simple as taking bromocriptine or cabergoline. These are medications that reduce prolactin production. If you have a tumor, however, you may need surgery or radiation to reduce the tumor size.
For many people with this condition, just reducing prolactin levels may be enough to improve fertility. However, some patients may need a little assistance through fertility-restoring hyperprolactinemia treatment. Gonadotropin supplementation for fertility can be particularly useful for patients who still are not ovulation after treatment. At Advanced Reproductive Center, we provide many treatments that can help with improving your fertility chances, including:
- Hormone regulating medications
- Intrauterine insemination
- In vitro fertilization
- Donor eggs and sperm
- Intracytoplasmic sperm injection
If you or a loved one suspect that they have excessive amounts of prolactin, it is essential to speak to a healthcare professional as soon as possible. Advanced Reproductive Center has experienced fertility experts who can help diagnose any potential health problems and recommend treatment options. Call Advanced Reproductive Center at 312.485.4847 to get in touch with us and learn more about our many services.