One type of pituitary adenoma (non-cancerous pituitary tumor) is a prolactinoma. This tumor makes too much of the hormone prolactin. About half of pituitary adenomas are prolactinomas.

Symptoms of a prolactinoma are different in women and men. In women, symptoms include:

  • Making breast milk when you're not pregnant or nursing
  • Changes in menstruation

In men, symptoms include:  

  • Headaches
  • Vision problems 
  • Problems getting an erection or loss of interest in sex

Prolactinomas are usually smaller when they are diagnosed in women. This might be because they cause more obvious symptoms, such as changes in menstruation.  

Prolactinoma Treatment Options  

Prolactinomas are usually treated with medication that lowers the levels of prolactin in your body. The medication also shrinks the tumor. Imaging studies, such as a MRI image or a CT scan  can help your doctor see if the medication is shrinking the tumor.

Some people with prolactinomas do not need any treatment other than regular doctor visits.  

You might need surgery to remove a prolactinoma if:

  • It does not get smaller with medication
  • You still have symptoms
  • The medication side effects are very unpleasant

The OHSU Northwest Pituitary Center team will work with you to make sure you receive all the care you need and will work with you to determine the best treatment.  

If you are pregnant and have a prolactinoma, your doctor will watch carefully to see if it grows. You need regular vision tests during your pregnancy because the prolactinoma is close to your optic nerve.