Optimal Result: 102 - 496 mU/L, or 4.79 - 23.31 ng/mL.

Prolactin is a hormone produced by the pituitary gland that causes breast development in women and milk production in pregnant women. Prolactin does not have known biological function in men. Serum prolactin increases normally throughout pregnancy, reaching its highest level at the time of delivery. Prolactin also increases during nipple stimulation and breastfeeding. Physical and emotional stress can cause serum levels of prolactin to rise as well. In these cases, however, the increase is usually modest and usually do not exceed normal age and gender ranges. Other causes of elevated serum prolactin levels can lead to hyperprolactinemia, which is a higher than normal level of serum prolactin.

Normal Ranges for prolactin:

Adult Male



Adult Female



















Stages of Puberty (Tanner Stages)


Female Observed

Male Observed

  Stage I ng/mL

≤10.0 ng/mL

  Stage II-III

2.6-18.0 ng/mL

≤6.1 ng/mL

  Stage IV-V

3.2-20.0 ng/mL

2.8-11.0 ng/mL

What does it mean if your Prolactin result is too low?

Low levels of prolactin are primarily a problem for women during development and around pregnancy. It can interfere with breast development and breastfeeding. Some evidence suggests that low prolactin levels may also interfere with male fertility.

Some specific causes of low prolactin are:

  • Post-partum necrosis (Sheehan syndrome) 
  • Autoimmune disease
  • Hypothalamic-pituitary disease
  • Dopamine agonist drugs

What does it mean if your Prolactin result is too high?

An abnormally high level of prolactin in the serum is called hyperprolactinemia. Hyperprolactinemia can be caused by disorders that affect the hypothalamus or pituitary gland or drugs. In premenopausal women, hyperprolactinemia may interfere with the menstrual cycle causing a lack of periods (amenorrhea) and infertility. High prolactin levels may reduce bone density. It may or may not cause galactorrhea, which is the inappropriate expression of breast milk. In men, hyperprolactinemia may cause decreased libido, erectile dysfunction, infertility, the growth of breast tissue, or galactorrhea. Postmenopausal women usually do not experience symptoms of high prolactin levels.

Some specific causes of high prolactin are:

  • Hypothalamic-pituitary disease
  • Anorexia nervosa
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Polycystic ovarian syndrome
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Lactotroph adenomas
  • Chest wall injuries
  • Drugs such as antipsychotics, tricyclic antidepressants, estrogens, and gastric motility drugs
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