View Full Version : Prolactin.... and orgasm! and depression?

04-20-2009, 07:55 PM
Is Prolactin Ruining Your Love Life?

We've observed that there's a lingering "hangover" after passionate sex, and it's our suspicion that high levels of a hormone called prolactin may be a major culprit. According to Psychology Today:

Studies at two German universities found that the hormone prolactin may dampen sexual arousal after orgasm, perhaps signaling to the body that it's had enough. Researchers, led by Michael Exton, Ph.D., a biological psychologist at the University of Essen's Institute of Medical Psychology, asked 10 women to masturbate until achieving orgasm, then examined them afterward. He discovered a surge in the hormones adrenaline, noradrenaline and prolactin that occurred during arousal and orgasm - but prolactin's rise was the most dramatic and prolonged.
Prolactin has been linked to functions in both men and women, including sperm and breast milk production. Exton believes it regulates dopamine, a neurotransmitter that plays a role in movement control, pleasure and pain, and likens it to a built-in switch for turning on and off sexual desire. "The prolactin surge may possibly signal the brain and reproductive organs that `once is enough,'" he says.
Women are not alone in releasing prolactin after orgasm - Exton's previous research on men and animals has uncovered a similar dynamic.
As prolactin tends to be inversely tied to levels of dopamine, let's begin with dopamine, the "craving" neurochemical. All addictive substances also increase dopamine. In fact, that's why they're addictive. The lead up to orgasm is the biggest (legal) blast of dopamine available to mankind. This powerful motivator is the reason that humans have engaged in sex with such fervor for millennia.
Dopamine drops off immediately at the point of orgasm. Yet hangover symptoms from this over-stimulation can continue for weeks. Most of us make absolutely no connection between these two events, but perhaps it is time that we did. Let's look at what scientists are learning about prolactin's effects on our sex lives.

Prolactin rises sharply immediately after orgasm in almost everyone. In fact it is a more accurate marker for orgasm than oxytocin, which also often rises at orgasm. Noting the link between orgasm and raised prolactin, Dr. Jeremy P.W. Heaton surmised, "Orgasm may induce changes in the hypothalamus that overwhelm prolactin inhibition" (allowing prolactin to rise dramatically). Possibly the sudden drop in dopamine itself unleashes prolactin.
It appears that the evolutionary purpose of this increase in prolactin is to shift lovers' attention to other activities, such as feeding the kids, hunting and gathering, and so forth. It may also serve to decrease our attachment to an existing partner and prime us for moving on, to another lover - who, biology ensures, will offer an enticing new dopamine rush...the 'Coolidge Effect' (http://www.reuniting.info/node/47).

In any case, prolactin levels remain elevated for some time after orgasm, and may even surge repeatedly for days. Lovers have observed mood swings related to orgasm for as long as two weeks afterward. Interestingly, cocaine addicts who go through withdrawal also have unusually high prolactin levels, which normalize by the end of three weeks. (Like orgasm, cocaine floods the pleasure/reward center of the brain with dopamine.) In female rats, intermittent prolactin surges continue for up to two weeks after copulation, whether or not the rats become pregnant.
There is a well-documented relationship between dopamine and prolactin; when one is unusually high the other is low, and vice versa. For example, schizophrenia is associated with high levels of dopamine. Some anti-psychotic drugs (designed to lower dopamine in schizophrenics) also raise prolactin levels. Schizophrenia patients treated with these drugs often complain of the same symptoms as others with high prolactin, such as low libido.

Scientists once thought of prolactin as strictly promoting lactation in nursing mothers, but as time has passed they've discovered prolactin plays many other roles - everything from inhibiting sexual drive to immune functions. (Recently, it was even discovered that rams who prefer to mate with other rams have higher [female] levels of prolactin ( in the hypothalamus, a part of the brain that governs the release of sex hormones.) Prolactin also appears to be part of the mammalian repertoire of stress responses. It is more associated with anxiety and despair rather than fight or flight, as is cortisol. 1 (http://www.reuniting.info/science/prolactin_sex_libido#footnote1) Although, paradoxically, it may also play a role in the uncharacteristic calm of expecting and lactating mothers.
We're suggesting that orgasm leads to consistent surges of prolactin over a two-week period (of course most lovers do not wait two weeks, which means these neurochemical swings are always affecting their relationships). Symptoms of elevated prolactin are similar in both sexes. Men with high prolactin levels sometimes report erectile dysfunction, low libido, headaches, and mood changes (anxiety). These experiments were tracking consistent high levels of prolactin, while we're suggesting that mating-related surges are perhaps producing similar feelings that come and go during the weeks following orgasm.2 (http://www.reuniting.info/science/prolactin_sex_libido#footnote2) In short, if a woman becomes a shrew during the weeks after a passionate encounter, she may have good reason...neurochemically at least. Women with high prolactin levels can suffer from depression, anxiety, and hostility. Many of the symptoms of PMS are similar to the effects of high prolactin, and women have noticed improvements in those symptoms using the approach to sex that we recommend (avoiding conventional orgasm while making love frequently).

The relationship between the intense high of dopamine and the subsequent lingering unpleasant symptoms associated with prolactin may someday help scientists explain why intimate relationships often fall into a sort of manic/depressive cycle. One day he looks like Dr. Jekyll; the next day like Mr. Hyde. One day she looks like Aphrodite; the next like Medusa with live snakes for hair.
Chinese Taoists observed this distressing phenomenon even thousands of years ago. According to Mantak Chia, sages recognized that vicious crimes are often committed after sex because one scares easily and reacts violently. They also noticed that antipathy could build up between intimate partners over time because of the uncomfortable drop off, or feeling of depletion (high prolactin?), following orgasm.
Best of all, Taoists recognized that there is a natural cure for the problem: learn to make love without over-stimulating yourself with too much dopamine (orgasm or hungry behavior). That way, neurochemical levels seem to stay balanced. The results? No more intense mood swings...and an easy, natural, sustained attraction between lovers.
Lovers can achieve this result without chemical manipulations by learning to make love differently. Perhaps one day therapists who study addiction (and the relationship between dopamine and prolactin) will lend their support to this natural way to balance our emotions. However, don't look to medical researchers in laboratories to publicize this possibility, if indeed they ever discover it. This is not because of a conscious conspiracy; it's due to the fact that experiments require funding, so laboratory research is geared toward producing substances that can be protected by patents and marketed as drugs - like Viagra, Levitra and Cialis.
Behavior changes that promote well-being without drug manipulation, are, therefore, easily overlooked. Unfortunately, neurochemistry is so complex that drugs can seldom "cure" one imbalance without creating others, which then show up as unpleasant side effects. According to urologist Jeremy Heaton,

Prolactin is an important sex hormone with potentially far-reaching daily consequences. It has a fundamental role in sexual activity, and may be the first candidate for a circulating molecule with the capacity to regulate sexual feelings and preparedness.
Suggestion: don't expect to pop a pill to counter the effects of prolactin. Instead, change your behavior to create inner balance and avoid the extremes biology otherwise dictates. Broaden your repertoire of lovemaking skills to discover the truth for yourself.
If you would like to learn more about prolactin, visit these related links:
Prolactin: An integral player in hormonal politics (http://www.reuniting.info/science/prolactin_hormonal_politics_jeremy_heaton)
Once Is Enough (http://psychologytoday.com/articles/pto-20000901-000013.html) (prolactin may reduce sexual arousal after orgasm)
Mother Nature's Trump Card (http://www.reuniting.info/science/articles/prolactin_levels_higher_after_intercourse_than_mas turbation) (prolactin rises 400% more after orgasm with intercourse than it does after masturbation to orgasm)
Female sexual hangover a vestige of mammalian 'pregnancy protecting' mechanism? (http://www.reuniting.info/science/post_copulatory_prolactin_rise_female_rats) (prolactin surges for two weeks after intercourse in female rats)
See also medical abstracts on prolactin research (http://www.reuniting.info/science/research/sexual_hangover#prolactin).

NOTE: For a more current look at some relevant research see Oxytocin Revisited (http://www.reuniting.info/science/oxytocin_revisited).
<LI id=footnote1>Physiologic Manifestations of Stress from Capture and Restraint of Free-Ranging Male African Green Monkeys (Cercopithecus Aethiops) (http://www.bioone.org/bioone/?request=get-abstract&issn=1042-7260&volume=035&issue=01&page=0020) (prolactin is apparently a stress hormone associated with long-term despair, and rose over time in captured monkeys)
Prolactin secretory rhythm of mated rats induced by a single injection of oxytocin (http://www.math.fsu.edu/~aluffi/archive/paper274.abs.html) (Oxytocin surge at orgasm may cause post-orgasmic prolactin.) And Prolactin release after mating and genitosensory stimulation in females (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=pubmed&dopt=Abstract&list_uids=8521792&query_hl=33)(Intromissions induce the 10-13 days of twice-daily prolactin surges. There is a threshold that has to be met for the full response to occur.)

04-20-2009, 08:39 PM
the release of prolactin in men after orgasm is why most men take long to get aroused again...prolactin is also released in large doses after giving birth which causes postpartum depression...prolactin also causes hairloss

04-21-2009, 02:13 AM
And why did I post this in Fem Chem? An aspect of steroids that women often don't worry about is prolactin. But of all those various compounds mentioned on this board, nandrolone (NPP) and tren promote prolactin.

04-21-2009, 09:59 AM
And why did I post this in Fem Chem? An aspect of steroids that women often don't worry about is prolactin. But of all those various compounds mentioned on this board, nandrolone (NPP) and tren promote prolactin.

Very interesting read. What would you suggest be used to control prolactin?

04-21-2009, 10:03 AM

04-21-2009, 10:08 AM
Pathological gambling, increased libido, and hypersexuality have been reported in patients treated with dopamine agonists including cabergoline (ingredient in Dostinex)

04-21-2009, 10:09 AM
TY, Esp. I recall reading somewhere else now hat SS recommended cabergoline

04-21-2009, 10:55 AM
TY, Esp. I recall reading somewhere else now hat SS recommended cabergoline

Yes indeed. I discussed the importance of running an anti prolactin in depth here:


Bromo or Dostinex are the best choices. I personally would recommend .5mg of Dostinex every third day.

04-21-2009, 11:45 AM
Another option being explored is Pramipexole.

Quicky google on "pramipexole prolactin" returns from PubMed:

Dopaminergic challenges in social anxiety disorder: evidence for dopamine D3 desensitisation following successful treatment with serotonergic antidepressants. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18838500?ordinalpos=1&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsP anel.Pubmed_DefaultReportPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum)
Hood S, Potokar J, Davies S, Hince D, Morris K, Seddon K, Nutt D, Argyropoulos S.
J Psychopharmacol. 2008 Oct 6. [Epub ahead of print]
PMID: 18838500 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]
Related Articles (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/sites/entrez?db=pubmed&cmd=link&linkname=pubmed_pubmed&uid=18838500&ordinalpos=1:)

Comparison of pramipexole with and without domperidone co-administration on alertness, autonomic, and endocrine functions in healthy volunteers. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17578485?ordinalpos=2&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsP anel.Pubmed_DefaultReportPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum)
Samuels ER, Hou RH, Langley RW, Szabadi E, Bradshaw CM.
Br J Clin Pharmacol. 2007 Nov;64(5):591-602. Epub 2007 Jun 19.
PMID: 17578485 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Related Articles (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/sites/entrez?db=pubmed&cmd=link&linkname=pubmed_pubmed&uid=17578485&ordinalpos=2:) Free article in PMC | at journal site (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17578485?ordinalpos=2&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsP anel.Pubmed_DefaultReportPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum&log$=freejrpmc)

Comparison of pramipexole and amisulpride on alertness, autonomic and endocrine functions in healthy volunteers. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16802163?ordinalpos=3&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsP anel.Pubmed_DefaultReportPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum)
Samuels ER, Hou RH, Langley RW, Szabadi E, Bradshaw CM.
Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2006 Sep;187(4):498-510. Epub 2006 Jun 27.
PMID: 16802163 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Related Articles (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/sites/entrez?db=pubmed&cmd=link&linkname=pubmed_pubmed&uid=16802163&ordinalpos=3:)

Review of evidence that posttransplantation psychiatric treatment commonly affects prolactin levels and thereby influences graft fate. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16675366?ordinalpos=4&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsP anel.Pubmed_DefaultReportPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum)
Foley KF, Kast RE.
Gen Hosp Psychiatry. 2006 May-Jun;28(3):230-3.
PMID: 16675366 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Related Articles (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/sites/entrez?db=pubmed&cmd=link&linkname=pubmed_pubmed&uid=16675366&ordinalpos=4:)

Comparison of pramipexole and modafinil on arousal, autonomic, and endocrine functions in healthy volunteers. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16401653?ordinalpos=5&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsP anel.Pubmed_DefaultReportPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum)
Samuels ER, Hou RH, Langley RW, Szabadi E, Bradshaw CM.
J Psychopharmacol. 2006 Nov;20(6):756-70. Epub 2006 Jan 9.
PMID: 16401653 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Related Articles (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/sites/entrez?db=pubmed&cmd=link&linkname=pubmed_pubmed&uid=16401653&ordinalpos=5:)

Partial dopamine receptor agonists reverse behavioral, biochemical and neuroendocrine effects of neuroleptics in the rat: potential treatment of extrapyramidal side effects. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7905192?ordinalpos=6&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsP anel.Pubmed_DefaultReportPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum)
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Related Articles (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/sites/entrez?db=pubmed&cmd=link&linkname=pubmed_pubmed&uid=7905192&ordinalpos=6:)

Neuroendocrine and side effect profile of pramipexole, a new dopamine receptor agonist, in humans. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1350237?ordinalpos=7&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsP anel.Pubmed_DefaultReportPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum)
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Related Articles (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/sites/entrez?db=pubmed&cmd=link&linkname=pubmed_pubmed&uid=1350237&ordinalpos=7:)

Decrease of prolactin secretion via stimulation of pituitary dopamine D-2 receptors after application of talipexole and SND 919. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2142088?ordinalpos=8&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsP anel.Pubmed_DefaultReportPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum)
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PMID: 2142088 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Related Articles (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/sites/entrez?db=pubmed&cmd=link&linkname=pubmed_pubmed&uid=2142088&ordinalpos=8:)

Occurrence of yawning and decrease of prolactin levels via stimulation of dopamine D2-receptors after administration of SND 919 in rats. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2571944?ordinalpos=9&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsP anel.Pubmed_DefaultReportPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum)
Matsumoto S, Yamada K, Nagashima M, Domae M, Shirakawa K, Furukawa T.
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PMID: 2571944 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Related Articles (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/sites/entrez?db=pubmed&cmd=link&linkname=pubmed_pubmed&uid=2571944&ordinalpos=9:)