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Prolactinoma is a condition in which a noncancerous tumor (adenoma) of the pituitary gland in your brain overproduces the hormone prolactin. The major effect is decreased levels of some sex hormones — estrogen in women and testosterone in men.
Although prolactinoma isn’t life-threatening, it can impair your vision, cause infertility and produce other effects. Prolactinoma is the most common type of hormone-producing tumor that can develop in your pituitary gland.
Doctors can often treat prolactinoma with medications to restore your prolactin level to normal. Surgery to remove the pituitary tumor also might be an option.
There may be no noticeable signs or symptoms from prolactinoma. However, signs and symptoms can result from excessive prolactin in your blood (hyperprolactinemia) or from pressure on surrounding tissues from a large tumor. Because elevated prolactin can disrupt the reproductive system (hypogonadism), some of the signs and symptoms of prolactinoma are specific to females or males.
In females, prolactinoma can cause:
In males, prolactinoma can cause:
In both sexes, prolactinoma can cause:
Women tend to notice signs and symptoms earlier than men do, when tumors are smaller in size, probably because they’re alerted by missed or irregular menstrual periods. Men tend to notice signs and symptoms later, when tumors are larger and more likely to cause headache or vision problems.
If you develop signs and symptoms associated with prolactinoma, see your doctor to determine the cause.
The pituitary gland and the hypothalamus are situated within the brain and control hormone production.
The endocrine system includes the pituitary gland, thyroid gland, parathyroid glands, adrenal glands, pancreas, ovaries (in females) and testicles (in males).
Prolactinoma is one type of tumor that develops in the pituitary gland. The cause of these tumors is unknown.
The pituitary gland is a small bean-shaped gland situated at the base of your brain. Despite its small size, the pituitary gland influences nearly every part of your body. Its hormones help regulate important functions such as growth, metabolism, blood pressure and reproduction.
Other possible causes of prolactin overproduction include medications, other types of pituitary tumors, an underactive thyroid gland, ongoing irritation to the chest, pregnancy and breast-feeding.
Most prolactinomas occur in women between 20 and 34 years old, but can occur in both sexes at any age. The disorder is rare in children.
Complications of prolactinoma may include:
If you have prolactinoma and you want to become or are already pregnant, talk to your doctor. Adjustments in your treatment and monitoring may be necessary.
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