High Prolactin Levels: Symptoms, Normal Levels & Causes

Updated in March 2024

High prolactin, or hyperprolactinemia, is an increase in prolactin levels in the blood. Prolactin is considered to be high when it is above 25 ng/mL. This can happen for many reasons, including stress, physical activity, pregnancy, breastfeeding or some illnesses.

When prolactin is high in the blood, some signs and symptoms that can emerge include decreased libido, infertility, and abnormal periods.

If you suspect you may have high prolactin levels, it is important to consult an endocrinologist to identify the underlying cause and initiate appropriate treatment.

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Main symptoms

The main signs and symptoms of high prolactin are:

  • Decreased libido
  • Irregular periods or lack of periods in women
  • Infertility
  • Osteoporosis
  • Breastmilk production
  • Delayed puberty in adolescents

Depending on the underlying cause of high prolactin, other symptoms may also appear, such as frequent headaches and changes in vision, like blurred or double vision.

Symptoms of high prolactin in men

High prolactin in men can cause symptoms such as erectile dysfunction, breast enlargement, milk leakage, decreased testosterone levels and infertility.

Does high prolactin make you fat?

There is no direct relationship between high prolactin and weight gain. If you notice unexplained weight gain, you should speak to your endocrinologist or family doctor for testing of prolactin and other hormones, to determine the underlying cause.

Normal levels

Prolactin is typically considered high when blood levels are above 25 ng/mL. However, the baseline normal values for the prolactin test may vary slightly depending on each laboratory.

Common causes

The main causes of high prolactin are:

  • Stress
  • Intense physical exercise
  • Pregnancy
  • Breast-feeding
  • Use of some medications, such as anti-nausea medications, antipsychotics and antidepressants
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Kidney and liver diseases
  • Tumors

High prolactin can happen due to common/physiological situations in the body, such as stress or physical exercise, however, it is important that there is always a thorough evaluation by an endocrinologist.

Treatment options

The treatment of high prolactin should always be evaluated by an endocrinologist. Correction this result varies depends on the underlying cause. Cases of physiological hyperprolactinemia related to pregnancy or stress do not require targeted treatment.

Medications that cause high prolactin levels may be discontinued, as per the prescriber's assessment. Hyperprolactinemia caused by tumors may be treated with medications and surgery. 

Are high prolactin levels curable?

High prolactin can have numerous causes and does not always require specific treatment, as it may be caused by a natural physiological process in the body itself, such as pregnancy or breastfeeding. When it is caused by diseases, there are specific treatments that can normalize prolactin levels