A hormone produced by the anterior pituitary gland. In humans, prolactin with estrogen and progesterone stimulates breast development and the formation of milk during pregnancy. The act of sucking is an important stimulus for the production of prolactin in the postpartum period. Some of the metabolic effects of prolactin resemble those of growth hormone. In the female this includes amenorrhea, galactorrhea, and infertility. In the male it may cause erectile dysfunction. Hyperprolactinemia may be associated with amenorrhea in women and reduced sexual potency in men. Thyrotropin-releasing hormone and stress of all kinds can stimulate prolactin release. The secretion of prolactin is inhibited by dopamine.
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