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- What Is Prolactin?
- What Are the Normal Prolactin Levels to Get Pregnant?
- Can You Get Pregnant With Low Prolactin Levels?
- Can You Get Pregnant With High Prolactin Levels?
- Symptoms of High Prolactin Levels
- Causes of High Prolactin Levels
- How Is High Prolactin Diagnosed?
- Medical Treatment for High Prolactin Levels
- How to Lower Prolactin Levels to Get Pregnant Naturally
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Every hormone in our bodies has a specific purpose, and it is usually when these hormones go haywire that we find ourselves with problems. A woman experiences hormonal changes throughout her life, and these changes are magnified during pregnancy. A hormone called prolactin is one that plays an important role in fertility and conception. If your prolactin levels are abnormal, you are most likely to have trouble conceiving.
What Is Prolactin?
Originating from the pituitary gland, prolactin is a hormone that helps in the production of breast milk. Both men and women have prolactin in their blood. In women, prolactin plays an important role in fertility, menstruation and sex drive. And in men, prolactin plays a major role in the production of testosterone, which thus stimulates the production of sperm.
What Are the Normal Prolactin Levels to Get Pregnant?
For women who are not pregnant, the average prolactin levels should be between 2 and 29ng/ml (nanograms per millilitre). Women whose prolactin levels fall in this range have a better chance at conceiving.
Can You Get Pregnant With Low Prolactin Levels?
If your pituitary gland is not working properly, your prolactin levels will be low. This is known as hypopituitarism. However, this is not considered to be a problem as conceiving a child is possible even with low prolactin levels.
Can You Get Pregnant With High Prolactin Levels?
High prolactin levels (known as hyperprolactinemia) may make it difficult to conceive. Hyperprolactinemia is also a cause of infertility in some people. Hyperprolactinemia as a result of a successfully established pregnancy is normal. As a woman’s body starts to produce more breast milk to feed her child, her prolactin levels may spike. However, having high levels of prolactin at any other time is not good.
Symptoms of High Prolactin Levels
You will be advised to have your prolactin levels checked if you have the following:
- Producing breast milk when you are neither pregnant nor a new mother
- Low sex drive
- Lack of menstrual period or irregular menstrual cycle
- Anovulation (i.e. absence of ovulation)
- Weight gain
- Vision problems
- Breast tenderness
- Hot flashes or vaginal dryness
Causes of High Prolactin Levels
There are many things that can cause high levels of prolactin. Some of these are:
- Medication that falls into the category of anti-convulsants, anti-hypertensive drugs and opiates
- Anorexia (eating disorder)
- Lack of sleep
- Extreme stress
- Strenuous exercise
- Tumour in the pituitary gland
- Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)
How Is High Prolactin Diagnosed?
A blood test can determine whether or not the above-mentioned symptoms are a result of high prolactin levels. If not, these symptoms can also be a result of prolactinoma (i.e. presence of a tumour). Prolactinoma is a benign tumour in the pituitary gland that causes an increased secretion of prolactin.
The first thing your doctor will ask you with regards to infertility issues or irregularity in your menstrual cycle is if you are taking medication. Along with this, your thyroid function will be tested. In some cases, an MRI or CT scan can be used to diagnose the problem.
Medical Treatment for High Prolactin Levels
Medication such as bromocriptine is commonly prescribed to treat high prolactin levels as it can help the brain to produce dopamine. It can also shrink the prolactinoma tumours if present. Cabergoline is a newer drug for prolactinoma that is meant to have fewer side effects. If you find yourself sensitive to the other drugs, this one may work best.
In other instances, radiotherapy may be suggested as a way to increase your prolactin levels or to treat prolactinoma.
How to Lower Prolactin Levels to Get Pregnant Naturally
While there are medicinal remedies to reduce the levels of prolactin in the body, there are pros and cons to this method. While some women find that medication works for them, it doesn’t work for others. Further, once the woman stops the medication, her prolactin levels may go back to being high. This is why natural ways of treating prolactin levels are preferred. Here are a few of them:
1. Vitamins and Supplements
Consuming vitamin and mineral supplements such as vitamin B6, vitamin E and SAM-e (s-adenosyl methionine) can be beneficial in reducing the prolactin levels in the body. Vitamin B6 is associated with metabolism and production of neurotransmitters like dopamine; vitamin E prevents the prolactin levels from rising, and SAM-e strengthens the joints, detoxifies the liver and boosts mood and brain functioning.
2. Herbal Teas
Drinking teas with ingredients such as white peony, peppermint, chaste berry, sage and others are very helpful as these ingredients have been used to treat disorders in women for hundreds of years as they all help in regulating a woman’s menstrual cycle.
3. Lifestyle Changes
As always, your lifestyle plays a huge role in helping your body function well. Habits like smoking, consuming alcohol and not getting enough exercise lead to problems while trying to conceive due to the changes and imbalances they cause to your hormones. Including a healthy diet is vital as it will improve the health of all your organs, especially the liver. A healthy diet will also help keep all the hormones in check, including prolactin. If you have thyroid, it can cause hyperprolactinemia. Hence lowering stress levels, cutting back iodine intake, and refraining from a goitrogenic diet, etc. can aid in lowering the condition.
Many couples today have problems conceiving due to the levels of prolactin being high. The biggest contributing factor to this is the lack of exercise, stress, overwork and unhealthy eating. Even a slight drop in the prolactin levels can improve the chances of a couple conceiving a child.
If you notice that you have any of the symptoms mentioned here, it is worth visiting a doctor so you can get your prolactin levels checked immediately. Opting for natural treatment is a better option as it is a more permanent solution.
Resources and References: WebMD
Also Read: Pregnant during Breastfeeding