Medical causes and consequences of hyperprolactinaemia. A context for psychiatrists

J Psychopharmacol. 2008 Mar;22(2 Suppl):28-37. doi: 10.1177/0269881107087951.


Hyperprolactinaemia is the commonest endocrine disorder of the hypothalamic-pituitary axis and can lead to both short-term sexual dysfunction and galactorrhoea, and long-term loss of bone mineral density. Prolactin is secreted from the anterior pituitary gland under the influence of dopamine, which exerts a tonic inhibitory effect on prolactin secretion. Physiological regulators of prolactin secretion include many different types of 'stress' and sleep. Disruption of the normal control of prolactin secretion results in hyperprolactinaemia from pathological and pharmacological causes. The administration of antipsychotic medication is responsible for the high prevalence of hyperprolactinaemia in people with severe mental illness. Physiological hyperprolactinaemia, such as pregnancy and lactation, should be distinguished from pathological causes to prevent unnecessary investigation and treatment. The causes, consequences and management of hyperprolactinaemia are discussed in this article.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antipsychotic Agents / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Hyperprolactinemia / chemically induced
  • Hyperprolactinemia / complications
  • Hyperprolactinemia / diagnosis
  • Hyperprolactinemia / etiology*
  • Hyperprolactinemia / metabolism
  • Hyperprolactinemia / therapy
  • Mental Disorders / complications
  • Mental Disorders / drug therapy*
  • Pituitary Gland / drug effects*
  • Pituitary Gland / metabolism
  • Prolactin / metabolism*
  • Risk Factors


  • Antipsychotic Agents
  • Prolactin