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What is Hyperprolactinemia?

Affinity Health, a leading provider of high-quality healthcare, highlights hyperprolactinemia.

Hyperprolactinemia is a treatable medical disorder. It occurs as higher-than-normal levels of the hormone prolactin in the blood.


What is Prolactin?

Prolactin is an essential hormone responsible for the reproductive health of women. Men also produce prolactin. The pituitary gland (linked to the base of the brain) produces prolactin in all humans. But it is best recognised for enabling women to create breast milk.


A woman’s prolactin levels rise after giving birth. Besides its role in breast milk production, excessive prolactin levels can also prevent:

  • Menstruation
  • Reduced sexual desire


When a mother weans her infant and stops breastfeeding, her prolactin levels normalise. That prompts her menstrual cycle to resume.


Learn More: What You Need to Know About Breastfeeding


Sometimes prolactin levels become elevated in a condition known as hyperprolactinemia. While not life-threatening, hyperprolactinemia can cause infertility and other complications.

How Does Hyperprolactinemia Develop?

There are many reasons for hyperprolactinemia.

  • Tumours
  • Specific prescription drugs
  • Other health issues


But in about a third of all cases of hyperprolactinemia, there is no underlying cause.


“Hyperprolactinemia is most common in people under the age of 40. It is rare in children and adolescents,” says Murray Hewlett, Affinity Health CEO.

What are the Symptoms of Hyperprolactinemia?

Some common symptoms include:

  • Bone loss
  • Diminished sexual drive
  • Infertility

Moreover, women may exhibit the following symptoms:

  • Pain caused by vaginal dryness during intercourse
  • Menstrual difficulties, such as irregular or no periods
  • Secretion of breast milk even when not breastfeeding or pregnant
  • Headaches
  • Visual problems
  • Nausea and vomiting

In contrast, men exhibit the following symptoms:

  • Erectile dysfunction
  • A growth in breast size (gynecomastia)
  • Loss of body hair and lean muscle mass
  • Sinus pain or pressure

How Does One Diagnose Hyperprolactinemia?

Blood tests determine elevated levels of prolactin. Your doctor may detect elevated prolactin levels. In that case, they will order more thyroid hormone blood tests.

Your doctor may also inquire about the following:

  • Your medications
  • Your pregnancy status


If they suspect that you have a prolactinoma they will recommend an MRI. Prolactinoma is a non-cancerous tumour of the pituitary gland. An MRI is an imaging test that produces an image of the bodily tissues. That allows doctors to detect the presence of a tumour.

What Treatment Options Exist for Hyperprolactinemia?

The diagnosis would determine the treatment for hyperprolactinemia. Some individuals with elevated prolactin levels have no signs of the disease. So, there is no treatment required.


Others suffer side effects and health issues as a result of hyperprolactinemia. In this case, your healthcare provider may:

Prescribe medications:

Your physician will prescribe medications that reduce prolactin levels in the blood. The majority of drugs are effective and well tolerated by the body.

Perform surgery:

If medications are ineffective, your physician may prescribe surgical removal of the tumour.

Recommend radiation:

If neither surgery nor medication is effective, radiation may be necessary. Radiation may reduce the size of the tumour.

About Affinity Health

Affinity Health is the leading provider of affordable medical insurance in South Africa. Members enjoy access to a network of healthcare providers. We have designed healthcare products to protect you and your family when it matters the most. We strive to give our clients peace of mind and the highest standard of service. For more information, follow us on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

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