TargetWoman is a portal dedicated to Women - Articles of lasting value from Hair styles to liposuction, from working women to fashion jewellery and a handpicked listing of sites of importance to women.
Also known as hyper lactation, galactorrhea is a rare condition wherein a grayish or white liquid is discharged from the breast. Galactorrhea is a condition wherein one breast or both the breasts secrete milky type of discharge. The breast/s could discharge with or without stimulation. It can occur in men, infants and in women but is mostly noticed in women. Women with galactorrhea produce milk even when they are not breast feeding.
Galactorrhea by itself is not a disease, but it surely is a sign of an underlying problem like hormonal imbalance, tumor, etc. Galactorrhea is also called witch's milk tumor and could be associated to a growth in the ovaries or other reproductive organs in women. In men it could relate to disorders in the testicles or related sexual organs that may stimulate the production of prolactin.
Any fluid discharge from the breast after menopausal stage in women could indicate breast cancer. However, the discharge related with breast cancer will be from one breast only. In galactorrhea, generally both breasts are involved. Presence of blood in the fluid discharged from the breast could be indicative of a benign growth in the breast tissue itself. Galactorrhea is more common in women aged between 20 and 35.
Consumption of birth control pills
An under-active thyroid (hypothyroidism)
A non-cancerous pituitary tumor or any other disorder of the pituitary gland
Medications like antidepressants, tranquilizers (a few), high blood pressure drugs and hormonal supplements
Chronic kidney disease
Excessive breast stimulation
Spinal cord surgery or tumor
Herbal supplements such as nettle, fennel, blessed thistle, anise and fenugreek seed
Drugs such as marijuana and opiates
Galactorrhea often results from too much prolactin (the hormone responsible for milk production-lactation) when you have a baby. Pituitary gland is the gland responsible for regulating the hormones.
Persistent or sporadic milky type of discharge, the discharge has no blood
Unexpected milk leak or manually expressed nipple discharge
One or both breasts get affected
Irregular menstrual periods or no menstrual periods
Headaches and/or vision problems
Increased hair growth on chin or chest
Idiopathic Galactorrhea: In a few cases, the doctors can't locate the exact cause for galactorrhea. This condition is called as idiopathic galactorrhea. This condition may indicate that the breast tissue is highly sensitive to the milk-producing hormone prolactin in your blood. With increased sensitivity to prolactin, even normal prolactin levels can lead to galactorrhea.
Galactorrhea in men: Testosterone deficiency (male hypogonadism) in men can lead to this condition. They have breast enlargement or tenderness (gynecomastia).
Galactorrhea in newborns: Galactorrhea can occur in newborns too. Elevated estrogen levels in the mother gets into the baby's blood. This can lead to enlargement of the baby's breast tissue, which may further produce the milky nipple discharge.
Pregnancy test in case of women
Analysis of fluid discharged from the breasts
MRI to check for tumor
Treatment for Galactorrhea depends on the underlying cause that has been diagnosed.
If tumor is the underlying cause, it is treated with surgery or medications.
If medications are the underlying cause, the medications have to be either discontinued or altered under medical supervision.
If hypothyroidism is the cause, then medication to support the hormone deficiency should be taken.
In many cases, treatment is not required to treat galactorrhea, it settles down on its own.
Galactorrhea cannot be prevented but the following steps might help:
Avoid wearing tight fitting clothes or clothes that can cause friction in the breast area.
Avoid touching the nipples during sexual intercourse.
Do not do self breast examinations more than once a month
Avoid breast stimulation of any kind
If a particular drug has caused the condition, that drug may be discontinued and drugs that don't induce such condition may be used.