Lactating Without Pregnancy? It Could Be Infertility, Say IVF Experts

New Delhi: Loss of libido, menstrual cycles and production of milk in the breasts due to increase in prolactin hormone could be sign of infertility, say doctors. This medical condition is called hyperprolactinema. More than 75 per cent of women in this condition produce milk without being pregnant

“In hyperprolactinemia, there is a rise of prolactin hormone over the normal level. High levels interfere with estrogen production and cause changes in ovulatory cycles leading to irregular menstrual period,” Arvind Vaid, IVF specialist, told IANS.

Dr Vaid said that high levels of prolactin in men can also lead to impotency and erectile dysfunction, though this is not very common.

Reproduction is affected if there is disinhibition or excess production from prolactinoma, he said. This inhibits the secretion of gonadotropin-releasing hormone from the hypothalamus.

“This decrease in level of gonadotropin-releasing hormone in turn decreases the secretion of luteinizing hormone and follicle stimulating hormone leading to infertility,” said Dr Vaid.

Prolactin induces lactation and also leads to enhanced breast development. The prolactin amount increases during pregnancy and after birth.

In some cases changes in menstrual flow is marked along with amenorrhoea, said Simanti Pathak, gynaecologist, adding, “Even on not being pregnant, breast produces milk with pain due to tissue changes there with increased levels of prolactin and loss of libido also causing vaginal dryness.”

To diagnose hyperprolactinemia, as a first step, a blood test to check serum prolactin levels, preferably fasting need to be conducted. If the levels are high, further assisting tests may be required, advise doctors.

Another IVF Expert Parth Joshi told IANS that if the prolactin levels are very high, a tumor may be suspected and in that case, MRI of the brain and pituitary glands is advised.

Some of the symptoms of prolactinoma in women to watch out for are – unexplained headaches, visual impairment, galactorrhea, or lactation outside of childbirth or nursing, pain or discomfort during sex, abnormal growth of body and facial hair, abnormal acne.

(With Inputs From IANS)

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