Normal ovulation is a complex process that requires many things to happen properly and at the correct time with the proper hormone levels. Often subtle hormonal imbalances or ovulation abnormalities result in decreased fertility. One hormone imbalance that can affect fertility is prolactin levels. High prolactin levels in nonpregnant women is known as hyperprolactinemia.
Structure of prolactin
The Hormone Prolactin
Prolactin is a hormone secreted by the pituitary gland, located at the base of the brain. In nonpregnant women, prolactin circulates in low levels in the bloodstream. When a woman is pregnant the amount of prolactin increase tenfold and stimulate milk production. High prolactin can create several problems including:
- inadequate progesterone production during luteal phase after ovulation
- irregular ovulation and menstruation
- absence of menstruation
- galactorrhea (breast milk production in non-nursing woman)
Prolactin testing, a blood test, is usually performed in females in the morning at the beginning of the cycle and again seven days later to determine if the prolactin levels are normal. Normal prolactin level in women is approximately 25 nanograms per milliliter. High prolactin my indicate the need for further testing (MRI) to check for a pituitary tumor.