Content Reviewers:Rishi Desai, MD, MPH
Contributors:Tanner Marshall, MS, Evan Debevec-McKenney, Jahnavi Narayanan, MBBS, Brittany Norton, MFA
With hypoprolactinemia, hypo- means below, -prolactin refers to the hormone produced by the pituitary gland, and -emia refers to the blood, so hypoprolactinemia means lower than normal prolactin levels in the blood.
Normally, at the base of the brain, there’s a small pea-sized gland called the pituitary gland.
One group, the lactotroph cells, secrete prolactin.
Apart from milk production, high levels of prolactin also inhibit the release of gonadotropin releasing hormone from the hypothalamus, which results in decreased luteinizing and follicle stimulating hormone levels, which in turn, decreases estrogen levels.
If the level of prolactin rises for any reason, then it signals the hypothalamus to release more dopamine, eventually decreasing its own production, a process called negative feedback or feedback inhibition.
The most common cause of hypoprolactinemia is Sheehan’s syndrome, a disorder where lactotroph cells die in a woman that has recently given birth and has postpartum hemorrhage - excessive blood loss during delivery.
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