Familiarize yourself with the purpose of prolactin test, the recommendations before the test, its procedure and factors that influence its results.

Prolactin Testing

Prolactin Testing

The purpose of prolactin is to define the cause of infertility in women. The purpose of prolactin test is to measure the level of the hormone prolactin, that is produced by the pituitary gland in your blood.
High levels of prolactin are observed among pregnant women, who prepare their breasts for the production of milk. During pregnancy, prolactin levels can vary and become higher by 10 to 20 times. After the delivery, prolactin maintains the mother's milk production (lactation). Women, who do not breast-feed their babies, observe that their prolactin levels become normal after the delivery of a child. Breast-feeding leads to the higher level of prolactin. Prolactin levels may become again normal some months of breast-feeding afterwards and be the same as normal nonpregnant or non–breast-feeding levels.

Prolactin is produced by the pituitary glands of men and a woman who is not pregnant, its function is not clear. Prolactin levels can change within the day. They are the highest while people sleep and soon after their sleep. Its levels can become higher while people are under physical or emotional stress and while they are sleeping. Some medications lead to higher level of prolactin. Tumors of the pituitary gland are also able to more intensive prolactin production. It should be kept in mind, that a damaged pituitary gland losses its ability to produce required quantity of prolactin.

The purpose of prolactin test is:
1) To get to know why an abnormal nipple discharge and such problem as infertility in a woman appears, why  menstrual periods is not observed (the medical term is amenorrhea),
2) When a pituitary gland problem in a man appears.
3) For the evaluation of a man's sexual desire or why he is unable to have an erection (erectile dysfunction), especially it should be done if his testosterone levels are very low.
4) To find out whether a big quantity of of prolactin is produced by a tumor in the pituitary gland (the medical term is a prolactinoma).

Before having a prolactin test the following recommendations are given: 
You should not eat or drink a few hours according to the advice of your doctor before having a prolactin test. A blood prolactin test should be done about 3 hours after your sleep; the recommended time is between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m.
Elevated prolactin levels can be observed after the influence of emotional stress or strenuous exercise. Before the test it is recommended to rest during the period to 30 minutes. Prolactin levels can become higher when you stimulate the nipples. It is forbidden to stimulate the nipples during a period of 24 hours just before the test. Women, who observe abnormal nipple discharge, should avoid eliciting the discharge just before the test.

The procedure of prolactin blood test should be done in such order:
1) The first thing you should do is to wrap an elastic band around your upper arm to prevent the further flow of blood.
) Wrapping an arm leads to the liger size of the veins below the band, that’s why it is better to insert a needle into the vein.
3) Disinfect the sharp side of needle with alcohol.
4) Insert the needle into the vein. It is recommended to have more than one needle stick. Then you should put a tube to the needle to fill it with blood.
5) As soon as the process of blood collection is over, you should take away the band from your arm.
6) As soon as you take away the needle, put a gauze pad or cotton ball over the needle site.
7) Then you should use pressure to the site and then a bandage.

When the doctor insert a needle, it can be hardly noticeable or you may feel a brief sting or pinch at the moment of the needle’s pinching the skin. A stinging pain at the moment of the needle being in the vein can be available among some people. No pain or little discomfort is the most common things when the needle is inserted in the vein. If your doctor is skilled and experienced, you feel little or no pain. Other factors that influence the reaction to pain are the condition of your veins and your sensitivity to pain.

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