Elevation of the pituitary hormone prolactin (hyperprolactinemia) is commonly found in women with breast discharge, menstrual irregularities, and/or infertility. There are a number of potential causes for this elevation. Certain medications and low thyroid may raise prolactin levels. Commonly, small pituitary tumors will cause hyperprolactinemia as well, with no other abnormalities.

Prolactin is a stress hormone and modest elevations of prolactin are seen with exercise, eating, stress, and/or nipple stimulation.

If your prolactin level is high, it will be repeated in a fasting condition to make sure that it is not a transient abnormality. If the level is fairly elevated and there is no obvious cause such as medications or thyroid dysfunction, a study of the pituitary gland will be recommended by your doctor.

There are two medications – Parlodel/bromocriptine and Dostinex/cabergoline – which are used to lower prolactin levels, decrease cycle irregularity and possibly nipple milk discharge, as well as increase fertility. These medications are commonly prescribed, and patients can achieve pregnancy when the normal menstrual cycles are resumed.