How does prolactin may impact fertility?
High levels of prolactin in your body may cause infertility. This condition is also known as hyperprolactinemia.
What is Prolactin?
As the name suggests, prolactin is a hormone associated with lactation or breast milk production. This hormone is produced by the pituitary gland. Its major role is to stimulate the production of breast milk post - delivery. Prolactin affects fertility in women by hindering ovulation. For this reason, a woman who is breastfeeding may not have her periods. However, some women may have high levels of prolactin even though they are not breastfeeding. This can lead to infertility.
Understanding the Relationships between Prolactin and Fertility
Under normal conditions, a woman's body produces very little prolactin unless she is pregnant. High levels of prolactin can stop the process of ovulation or slow it down. Thus the ovaries may release an egg intermittently or not release an egg at all. This can be seen in the form of absent or irregular periods. If the egg is not released according to schedule, couples cannot time their sexual intercourse. This makes natural conception very difficult.
In some cases, the prolactin levels may not be high enough to prevent ovulation but could affect the production of the progesterone hormone which is responsible for the thickening of the uterus walls after ovulation. This is known as the luteal phase. Low amounts of progesterone can shorten the luteal phase and keep the uterine lining from becoming as thick as it needs to be. This may result in a thin uterine lining that does not allow the fertilised egg to be implanted properly. As a result, even if the egg is fertilised, it will not have the chance to develop into a baby.
Can High Prolactin Levels be Brought Down?
Prolactin levels can be adjusted in various ways depending on the factors that have triggered the increased production in the first place. High prolactin levels resulting from side effects of medication can be lowered by changing the medication. In cases where increased prolactin production is caused by hypothyroidism, thyroid medication is usually prescribed. This corrects the underlying condition and in turn, helps regulate prolactin levels.
Stress can also cause increased production of prolactin. Hence, if you're planning a pregnancy, it is important to stay calm and find ways to deal with stress effectively.
Moreover highly effective medications are available that can help lower the prolactin levels.