Prolactin(PRL) Test

Prolactin (PRL) is a hormone that is released by the pituitary gland. This test analyses the amount of prolactin in the blood.

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What is the Prolactin (PRL) test? 

Prolactin is a hormone that is produced by the pituitary gland in the brain and is involved in lactation. Though it is often present in non-pregnant males and females, prolactin’s main role is to produce milk. Hence, it is found in large amounts in pregnant females. The prolactin concentration in the body is regulated by the chemical dopamine.

What are the other names for the Prolactin (PRL) test? 

The other names are the PRL test and serum prolactin test.

What are the test parameters included in the Prolactin (PRL) test?

There is only one parameter.


What does a Prolactin (PRL) test measure?

Prolactin (PRL) test analyses the amount of prolactin in the blood. Prolactin is produced by the pituitary gland, a small gland at the base of the brain. Usually, prolactin helps the breasts grow and produce milk during pregnancy and after birth. Prolactin values are normally high for pregnant women and new mothers. Levels are low for non-pregnant women and for men.


If prolactin values are higher than normal, it often means there is a type of tumour of the pituitary gland known as a prolactinoma. This tumour makes the gland produce a lot of prolactin. Excess prolactin may cause the production of breast milk in men and in women who are not pregnant or breastfeeding. In women, a lot of prolactin may cause menstrual problems and infertility ( the inability to get pregnant). In men, it may lead to lower sex drive and erectile dysfunction (ED). Also called impotence, ED is the inability to get or maintain an erection.


Prolactinomas are usually benign (noncancerous). But if left untreated, these tumours may damage surrounding tissues. 

What’s the normal range of a Prolactin test?

Who should get a Prolactin (PRL) test? 

Prolactin testing can be recommended:

  • A person has any signs and symptoms of a prolactinoma, such as unexplained headaches, visual impairment, and unexplained breast nipple discharge.

  • If the woman is experiencing infertility or irregular menstrual periods

  • A man has symptoms such as decreased sex drive (libido), nipple discharge, infertility, or low testosterone levels.


When a person has a prolactinoma, prolactin levels can be ordered periodically to monitor tumour growth and its response to treatment. They might also be ordered at regular intervals to monitor for prolactinoma recurrence.

Prolactin values might be ordered, along with other hormone levels such as growth hormone, when a healthcare professional suspects that a person has a pituitary disorder such as hypopituitarism.


When a person has a condition or is taking medications that may affect dopamine production, prolactin concentration might sometimes be monitored.


Are there any preparations needed for the Prolactin (PRL) test?

No special preparation is required. Fasting is not required for this test.

What is the type of sample required? 

This test requires a blood sample.

Who processes the Prolactin (PRL) test?

A healthcare provider, who is also called a phlebotomist, usually performs blood draws, including those for prolactin tests, but any healthcare provider trained in drawing blood can perform this task. These samples are sent to a lab where a medical laboratory scientist prepares the samples and performs the tests on analysers or manually.

What should I expect during my Prolactin (PRL) test?

You might expect to experience the following during the blood test or a blood draw:

  • You sit comfortably on the chair, and the phlebotomist will check your arms for an easily accessible vein. It is the inner part of the arm on the other side of your elbow.

  • Once the phlebotomist has identified a vein, they will disinfect the area with an alcohol swab.

  • They will insert the needle into your vein to draw a blood sample. This can feel like a small pinch.

  • After they insert the needle, the required amount of blood will be drawn into a test tube.

  • When they draw enough blood for the test, they’ll remove the needle and hold a cotton ball or gauze on the site to stop any bleeding.

  • They apply a band-aid over the pricked site, and the blood collection is finished.

This process takes less than five minutes.

What should I expect after my Prolactin (PRL) test?

Once the phlebotomist has collected the blood sample, it will be sent to the laboratory for processing or testing. Usually, when the reports are ready, your healthcare provider will share the results with you.

What are the risks of a Prolactin (PRL) test?

Blood tests are common, and they don’t carry any significant risks. You may have a slight pain like an ant bite when the needle gets inserted, and a small bruise might develop there.

When can I expect my Prolactin (PRL) test results?

At Orange Health, prolactin test reports are available within 6 hours.

What do the results of a Prolactin (PRL) test mean? 



Prolactin test results are reported in nanograms per millilitre (ng/mL). Usually, the test report will include information about the normal range used to interpret your prolactin results.


Interpretation of prolactin test results may depend on various factors, including an individual's health status and whether they have done prolactin tests previously. A healthcare practitioner should be consulted in order to understand prolactin test results in the appropriate medical context.

It is normal for people who are pregnant or nursing to have increased levels of prolactin. Rarely, patients are diagnosed with a prolactin deficiency, known as hypoprolactinemia, that causes an inability to produce breast milk after birth.

In people who are not pregnant, an elevated prolactin found on an initial test might be a sign of hyperprolactinemia, which is the condition of having excess prolactin in the blood. However, because prolactin values may be affected by certain foods, a repeat test is usually recommended after a period of fasting to confirm the diagnosis.

Hyperprolactinemia may be caused by a wide range of conditions, including kidney failure, thyroid problems, and diseases that affect brain regions like the hypothalamus or pituitary gland. Usually, prolactin tests cannot determine the underlying cause of high prolactin levels, so follow-up testing is usually necessary.

Increased levels of prolactin may also be a sign of a prolactinoma, a benign tumour in the pituitary gland. Prolactinomas release high levels of prolactin into the bloodstream. In general, larger tumours cause higher levels of prolactin. An imaging test, such as an MRI scan, is needed for further diagnosis to confirm if a prolactinoma is present or not.

If a prolactinoma is diagnosed, effective treatment usually brings prolactin levels to normal. If post-treatment prolactin levels continue to be increased and symptoms persist, doctors might change the treatment plan. Periodic testing also occurs for many years after treatment is over to check for signs that the tumour has reappeared or not. 

It is important to speak to your healthcare provider about the purpose of your prolactin test, how results compare to the laboratory normal range, and what those results mean in your specific situation.


What are normal Prolactin (PRL) test results?

The normal ranges can vary slightly among different laboratories. Some of the labs use different measurements or might do tests on the different samples. Speak to your healthcare provider about the meaning of your specific test results.


What other tests might I have along with this test?

Prolactin, MRI scan


How do I book a Prolactin (PRL) test at home?

Log on to and submit your details. Our highly trained, professional, and vaccinated eMedics will be at your doorstep within 60 minutes or at the time booked by you.

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Superb experience overall. Everything was very well managed right from booking to confirming slots, to pick up and report generation.

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