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.
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.
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.
Treatment for Galactorrhea depends on the underlying cause that has been diagnosed.
Galactorrhea cannot be prevented but the following steps might help: