11/21/2013 12:02 EST

Prolactin Hormone Causes Sexual Problems For Men

Noel Hendrickson via Getty Images

While the hormone prolactin is normally associated with stimulating breast milk production in women, a new study finds that it's also a major culprit in sexual problems in men.

Researchers examined nearly 3,000 European men ages 40 to 79, taking tabs on their testosterone and prolactin levels, body mass indexes, and blood cholesterol and sugar levels, LiveScience reports. Subjects also answered questionnaires about their general health, how much alcohol they drank and whether or not they smoked, as well as questions about their sex life.

Men with low prolactin had more issues with sexual health, as well as psychological health, while men with lower than average levels of prolactin, although still within the normal range, reported that their sexual issues were getting worse, including their ability to orgasm.

Low prolactin was also linked with other health issues, such as a high body mass index and lower levels of exercise, as well as just generally feeling unhealthier. Findings were published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine.

While everyone produces prolactin, scientists haven't been clear as to what the hormone does beyond its critical role in pregnant women. Prior studies have, however, found that high prolactin levels were associated with lower sexual desire in men and erectile dysfunction, LiveScience reports.

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