Prolactin and menses

Before we penetrate deep in the topic lets look into what are the meanings of term ‘amenorrhea’ and ‘prolactin’ (briefings only, will not bore you opening a medical encyclopedia). Amenorrhea is a condition when a female is not having menses during her reproductive years of life (i.e. between the time period of onset of menses to cessation of menses at menopause). Amenorrhea can be the primary type in which menses have never occurred and secondary type where menses were present but stopped due to some cause. That much of amenorrhea, more info on this will distort the theme of this article.

Pituitary and pineal glands

Pituitary and pineal glands

Next, what is prolactin? Prolactin is a hormone secreted from anterior pituitary gland primarily responsible for producing breast milk. Now for normal menses to occur there are certain hormones made from pituitary gland called gonadotropin hormones which are controlled by another hormone called gonadotropin releasing hormones (GnRH) produced from hypothalamus. Prolactin in excess inhibits GnRH which in turn decrease gonadotropin hormones release and inhibit ovulation, hence menstrual cycle can’t take its course. One important condition where huge amount of prolactin can get secreted is a tumor of pituitary gland called prolactinoma.

Besides pituitary tumors prolactin levels can be raised by use of certain antipsychotic drugs which are known for suppressing dopamine levels, which in turn increase the prolactin level (normal function of dopamine is to decrease prolactin level). In almost similar mechanism hypothyroidism causes amenorrhea. Hope that much of human biology was within adorable limits and didn’t complicate much!

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