In opposition to what we normally see with all of the other pituitary hormones, the hypothalamus predominantly suppresses prolactin release from the pituitary gland. In other words, there is usually a hypothalamic "Stop that" order set against the lactotroph, and prolactin is released only when the order is released.
A note of interest is that If the pituitary stalk is severed, prolactin release increases, while secretion of all the other pituitary hormones decreases dramatically due to loss of hypothalamic releasing hormones. But this is an unlikely scenario for most athletes and should obviously be avoided nonetheless.
The neurotransmitter Dopamine appears to act as the top dog prolactin-inhibiting factor. Dopamine is secreted into portal blood by the hypothalamic neurons. Next it binds to receptors on lactotrophs, and inhibits both the synthesis and release of prolactin. So chemicals and drugs that interfere with dopamine release or receptor binding also increase the release of prolactin. These are called antagonists. Drugs and chemicals that either increase, act as, or potentate dopamine are agonists.
Of course there are other chemicals in the body's Action/Reaction Factor closet that positively regulate prolactin. The major ones are GnRH, TRH (thyroid Releasing Hormone) and VIP (Vasoactive Intestinal Polypeptide). By the way, hyper-stimulation of the nipples may have a stimulatory effect upon prolactin release as well. But that is one we will leave alone.
So Why Do Non-Cross Dressing Men Produce Prolactin?
As a man ages his body begins to decrease the amount of androgens that it synthesizes. In fact many studies have shown that an average 40-year-old male produces about half of the testosterone that he did when he was 18. So he possesses a lower rate of muscle anabolism yet a higher rate of fat anabolism.
Many researches have claimed that this is due to normal physiological changes that occur as we progress through the years. In truth this is bullshit and supposition based upon average sedimentary individuals.
I monitor the physiological indicators of athletes for a living. I can say conclusively that almost any otherwise healthy male that remains in peak condition and eats a proper diet will retain a superior androgen production profile. So this is more so a matter of choice than pre-programmed physiological events. With that said let's get on with the why of prolactin.
Estrogen is a primary promoter of prolactin release. Of course there are other factors to consider (which we will discuss in a moment) that may trigger excessive prolactin secretion, but the normal trend toward increased prolactin release is due to increased estrogen synthesis.
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