The Link Between Prolactin and Infertility

One of the questions doctors and gynecologists ask is about the relationship between prolactin and infertility. Prolactin is a hormone that the thyroid gland secretes. Does it really influence infertility?
The Link Between Prolactin and Infertility

Last update: 18 January, 2019

Knowing the link between prolactin and infertility has made it possible to find a common cause of infertility. It’s a scientifically proven fact that excess prolactin can cause infertility.

During pregnancy, it’s normal for prolactin levels to rise in women. However, the problem occurs when a woman isn’t pregnant. Hyperprolactinemia (excessive prolactin increase) inhibits ovulation and causes infertility.

Why are prolactin and infertility associated?

Prolactin is a hormone that the thyroid secretes. Its primary function is to stimulate breast milk production. During pregnancy, prolactin levels increase. Additionally, breasts grow and prepare to breastfeed the baby.

Excessive prolactin production outside of pregnancy creates alterations in the menstrual cycle. Ovaries decrease their activity and make normal progesterone and estrogen levels more complicated. These conditions cause sterility because of problems ovulating. As a result, they cause infertility.

It’s possible that women who suffer from hyperprolactinemia even secrete milk from their breasts, even if they aren’t pregnant.

In practice, this disease can also affect men. Prolactin is also present in men. Too much of this hormone can cause sterility in men because it makes them produce less sperm.

The Link Between Prolactin and Infertility

Causes of this hormonal disorder

The good news is that you can treat infertility from prolactin in time. You can correct having too much of this hormone so it reduces to normal levels. To start a corrective treatment, it’s necessary to know what causes this condition.

There are three reasons why hyperprolactinemia may appear:

  • Physiological factors. Sometimes these factors arise due to temporary situations that become permanent. Stress, lack of sleep, and excessive exercise can cause people to produce more prolactin.
  • There are psychotropic drugs that can also cause this disorder. If someone uses certain drugs, it’s possible that some substances they contain affect prolactin. Medications to prevent vomiting and nausea may cause a boost in prolactin production.
  • Some endocrine system diseases cause irregularities in prolactin production. Among them are hypothyroidism, polycystic ovarian syndrome, and tumors in the pituitary gland.

Symptoms of producing too much prolactin

Usually very obvious symptoms appear that you’ll notice. The body sends signals, and it’s important to listen to them. Also, don’t underestimate them.

In women

  • Menstrual periods become irregular. Sometimes menstruation stops entirely because of prolactin
  • Headaches and decreased libido
  • Vaginal dryness that’s not normal
  • Increased body hair, hirsutism
  • Breasts grow and secrete milk, although the woman isn’t pregnant
  • Recurrent loss of pregnancies

In men

  • Reduced or nullified sexual desire
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Enlarged breasts. Also, muscle mass shrinks, especially in the thorax
  • Increased hairiness

Tests and diagnosis

If you notice these symptoms, you need to immediately consult a doctor. This can prevent serious problems, especially if you plan to start a family.

Diagnosing hyperprolactinemia isn’t hard. If your doctor thinks you have it, he’ll perform a blood test. If the test shows high prolactin levels, you’ll need to do more tests to determine what causes it.

First, he’ll make sure that you aren’t pregnant. Sometimes your doctor will do an MRI to check for hypothyroidism or polycystic ovarian syndrome.

The Link Between Prolactin and Infertility

Treating hyperprolactinemia

Obviously, the treatment will depend on the cause. Generally, when you control the cause, the hormone levels will return to normal.

  • If the problem is because of medication, your doctor will replace it with a different medication. After a while, the prolactin production will return to its normal levels. Therefore, the infertility problem will disappear.
  • When hypothyroidism is the cause, you can treat it with a thyroid hormone prescription. It’s a simple pill you take daily.
  • In other cases, you treat it with different types of oral medications.
  • There are extreme situations that may require surgery or radiotherapy.

If you notice that the relationship between prolactin and infertility persists over time, you’ll need to go to the doctor. You need to find out a new treatment as soon as possible. Fortunately, there are several methods that offer solutions.


All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Ali DE, Shah M, Ali A, Malik MO, Rehman F, Badshah H, Ehtesham E, Vitale SG. Treatment with Metformin and Combination of Metformin Plus Pioglitazone on Serum Levels of IL-6 and IL-8 in Polycystic Ovary Syndrome: A Randomized Clinical Trial. Horm Metab Res. 2019 Nov;51(11):714-722
  • Heydarpour F, Hemati N, Hadi A, Moradi S, Mohammadi E, Farzaei MH. Effects of cinnamon on controlling metabolic parameters of polycystic ovary syndrome: A systematic review and meta-analysis. J Ethnopharmacol. 2020 May 23;254:112741.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.