Dr. MJ Bazos MD,
What is galactorrhea?
Sometimes a woman's breast makes milk even
though she is not breast feeding a baby. This is called galactorrhea (say:
"gal-act-tor-ee-ah"). The milk may come from one or both breasts. It may leak
with no stimulation or it may leak only when the breasts are touched.
Men can have galactorrhea, too, but it is less
What causes galactorrhea?
Galactorrhea has many causes. Here are some of
- Medicines, like hormones, antidepressants, blood
pressure medicines and others
- Herbs, such as nettle, fennel, blessed thistle,
anise and fenugreek seed
- Street drugs, like marijuana and opiates
- Hormone imbalance
- Tumors (usually benign), especially tumors of the
pituitary (say: "pit-too-it-terry") gland, which is in the brain
- Clothing that irritates the breasts (like
scratchy wool shirts or bras that don't fit well)
- Doing very frequent breast self-exams (daily
- Stimulation of the breast during sexual activity
Sometimes the cause can't be
Galactorrhea produces a white fluid. If the
fluid coming from your breast is reddish, your doctor will check you for cancer.
What other signs should I tell my
Tell your doctor if you have any of these signs:
- No menstrual periods or periods that are not
- Headaches or trouble seeing
- Less interest in having sex
- Increase in hair growth on your chin or chest
What tests might my
Your doctor might order blood tests to find out
your hormone levels and to see if you are pregnant. Or, your doctor might want
you to have an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scan of your head to see if you
have a tumor.
Tests are not always needed if you and your
doctor can figure out what caused your galactorrhea.
How is galactorrhea treated?
Most tumors that cause galactorrhea are not
cancer. They can be treated with medicine or surgery.
In many cases, there is no treatment, and the
breast milk goes away with time. Until it goes away, here are some things you
can do to help:
- Avoid stimulating your breasts.
- Avoid touching your nipples during sexual
- Don't do breast self-exams more than one time a