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Forum Name: Gynecology

Question: Elevated prolactin levels

 natster - Wed Oct 29, 2008 3:14 am

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Please help educate me on the meaning of elevated prolactin levels. About 4 months ago, I had routine blood work done. Everything was healthy and good except for an elevated prolactin level. My doctor said that if, in six months, it is still high that he'd order an MRI. I didn't think much of it and attributed it to stress. However, at the current time I am trying to decide whether or not to continue health care coverage as I will be leaving to go overseas (for a year) in a couple of months where there is socialized medicine. The one thing that does put a question in my mind is that I have had lingering headaches the last few months and don't know what it is caused from. I figure our bodies rebound pretty well and am hoping that is the case in my case but the headaches have been somewhat problematic (sometimes with vertigo). At times I feel my breasts will explode (they get so full and tight). I thought that may be hormonal and that perhaps birth control might help regulate that so I have been taking birth control for the past month (originally prescribed to alleviate very painful periods). Can birth control help what I am hoping it will?

My elevated prolactin level was 36. Anything over 29 was considered elevated. Is 36 really that elevated? My doctor said that it was up quite considerably from the time before when it was 12. I was tested again while visiting in Canada. That doctor advised the same as my regular physician. This time my prolactin was in the normal-high range (>26 is high...mine was 23). Could you please tell me how the values for rating prolactin work and when should someone be concerned about elevated prolactin levels? I am afraid if I go back to my regular physician with headache issues that it will cost alot in tests. I know headaches are common but not for me. What's the cheapest way to go about this?
 Debbie Miller, RN - Wed Oct 29, 2008 2:43 pm

User avatar Hello,

First, in understanding the testing you should know that these tests show approximate values and there are many variables at play. Each lab differs somewhat and circumstances at the time of the blood draw can also affect the results. Usually the lab will give a range of normal, high, low which will vary from one lab to another; thus - what might be normal at one time could be high at another time. A particular brand of test will also be different from another.

I'm sure your doctor's concern is the possibility of a pituitary tumor, which is actually quite common. This is the reason he/she might order an MRI. However, the levels you have are not alarming so waiting for your arrival abroad should be fine to follow up on this if that works best for you financially.

The headaches are another story entirely. If this is not normal for you and is not relieved by over-the-counter pain relievers, you should have it checked out. This could be a symptom of pituitary tumor as well or it may be completely unrelated.

Best of luck to you in your travels.
 natster - Wed Oct 29, 2008 11:44 pm

Thank you for your response. I probably should get these headaches checked out - my head really hurts right now even as I write. I keep hoping this headache will go away permanently- painmeds help some but only temporarily. Massage has the same effect. Sigh. If I didn't have such a high deductible on my health insurance, I probably wouldn't hesitate so much to go to the doctor. Argh! I am trying to see if I can wait it out till I get overseas. Thanks again.

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