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What is Prolactin?

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Updated June 10, 2012

Question: What is Prolactin?
Answer: Prolactin is the hormone of lactation and is secreted by the pituitary gland, a small structure located within the brain. It is normally elevated in pregnant and lactating women. If you are having irregular menstrual periods, infertility or breast milk leakage, your physician may order a blood test to measure your prolactin levels. There are other conditions that can cause prolactin to be higher then normal, including pituitary tumor or disease, disease of the hypothalamus and kidney disease. Certain medications can also raise prolactin levels, such as tricyclic antidepressants (specifically clomipramine and desipramine), certain antipsychotics (i.e., Haldol, Zyprexa and Risperdal), verapamil (for blood pressure), reglan (metoclopramide; an antinausea medication) and acid blockers (H2 blockers). If an initial level comes back elevated, the physician may choose to repeat the test after fasting for several hours.
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