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Understanding Why Antipsychotic Medications Can Increase Prolactin Levels




Understanding High Prolactin Levels and Antipsychotic Medications

What is Prolactin? Prolactin is a hormone produced by the pituitary gland that helps with milk production in women and has various roles in both men and women.


Why Do Antipsychotic Medications Increase Prolactin Levels?

  • Antipsychotic medications, used to treat conditions like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, block dopamine receptors in the brain to control symptoms.

  • Dopamine normally inhibits prolactin release, so when its effects are blocked by these medications, prolactin levels can increase.


Potential Side Effects of High Prolactin Levels:

  • In Women: Irregular or absent menstrual periods, infertility, and milk production in non-breastfeeding women.

  • In Men: Reduced libido, erectile dysfunction, and enlarged breast tissue.

  • Both Genders: Bone health issues due to decreased Oestrogen and testosterone levels, leading to osteoporosis; psychological effects like sexual dysfunction and changes in body appearance.

Managing High Prolactin Levels:

  • Medication Review: Adjusting or changing medications to ones that have less impact on prolactin levels.

  • Monitoring: Regular blood tests to monitor prolactin levels.

  • Additional Treatments: Prescribing medications to manage high prolactin levels, and in cases of pituitary tumours, considering surgery or radiation.


Does High Prolactin Increase Mortality and Morbidity?

  • High prolactin levels alone do not typically increase mortality. However, serious underlying conditions, like large pituitary tumors, could pose related health risks.

  • High prolactin can lead to significant health complications, especially related to reproductive health, bone health, and psychological well-being, but these are generally manageable with proper treatment.


Conclusion: High prolactin levels, often caused by antipsychotic medications, can lead to various health issues. These levels can be managed effectively through medication adjustments, regular monitoring, and appropriate treatments. If you have concerns about your prolactin levels, discuss them with your healthcare provider to ensure proper diagnosis and care. Your health and well-being are important, and managing prolactin levels is a key part of your treatment plan.





By Dr Purity Carr

GP & Menopause Doctor

Harvey, WA

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