When it comes to male health and fertility, we tend to know that testosterone is an important marker. But measuring testosterone alone doesn’t always give you the full picture.
The ability of your body to produce the right levels of testosterone, and for that testosterone to work effectively, depends on lots of factors, from your diet and sleeping habits to whether you are getting enough essential vitamins and minerals.
Going beyond testosterone alone to take a closer look at the other elements linked to testosterone levels is important if you want to understand and improve your health, increase your fitness, and build muscle more effectively.
What is Prolactin and why is it important?
Prolactin is a hormone involved in breast milk production and can be found in high levels in women during the third trimester of pregnancy. While this is the main function of prolactin, you may be surprised to hear that it contributes to a few fundamental parts of male health, too.
One of these is the enhancement of luteinising hormone (LH) receptors (LHR) in the testes. This results in increased testosterone secretion.
Prolactin may also be beneficial for the central nervous system, forming new neurones as well as promoting anti-stress and anxiety reducing effects.
What are the signs that your levels of prolactin are too high?
Too much prolactin in men can result in lowered libido and erectile dysfunction. It can also cause lowered bone density due to reduced testosterone and, in turn, lowered oestradiol.
High levels of prolactin may even trigger depressive symptoms and can encourage lactation, headaches, and lowered mood. Many symptoms of early hyperprolactinemia are similar to those linked with lowered testosterone.
How does prolactin impact testosterone?
The interaction between prolactin and testosterone can be a bit complicated, which is why it’s important to consider both when thinking about your testosterone levels.
If prolactin levels are high, it can indicate a prolactinoma, a tumour of the pituitary gland that produces prolactin. High prolactin causes levels of luteinising hormone (LH) to be suppressed which leads to low testosterone.
Prolactin can interfere with the body’s release of gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH. This can lead to lower levels of LH, in turn lowering the production of testosterone.
Taking a look at your testosterone – look a little deeper
When looking indicators of your health and fitness, it’s always a good idea to get as much of a holistic view as you can, as there are so many elements which can influence how effectively our body is functioning.
And this is certainly the case when it comes to testosterone and its relationship with prolactin as many of the signs associated with lower levels of testosterone are also present with prolactin problems.
Getting your testosterone and prolactin levels checked at the same time can help build a clearer picture of your hormone health and give you the right guidance for supplements and other treatments if needed.