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Laboratory Tests

This section provides detailed information on a wide range of laboratory tests relevant to women's medicine

A rapid reference

Prolactin

Prolactin is a hormone, released from the pituitary gland, that stimulates milk production.

Mild elevations of prolactin can follow a breast exam, because breast stimulation provokes increased release of prolactin.

High levels of prolactin are frequently due to a pituitary tumor (microadenoma or macroadenoma) and are often associated with amenorrhea and glactorrhea.

Elevations of Prolactin may be seen in:

  • Galactorrhea
  • Amenorrhea
  • Pituitary malfunction
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Renal failure
  • Pregnancy
  • Breast-feeding
  • Stress
  • Exercise
  • Nipple stimulation
  • Drugs (estrogen, tricyclic antidepressents, antihypertensives, etc.)

Normal Values*

Men <20 ng/ml 53-360 mIU/L
Women 2-15 ng/ml 40-530 mIU/L
Pregnancy 50-400 ng/ml 1000-8000 mIU/L

*These are general values taken from a variety of sources. The actual normal values may vary from lab to lab and from one type of testing protocol to another.