This form of lactation is called galactorrhea. Galactorrhea is unrelated to the milk that a woman produces when breastfeeding. People may worry about unexpected nipple discharge, but there is no link between galactorrhea and breast cancer. In this article, learn about the possible causes of lactating without being pregnant or breastfeeding, as well as when to see a doctor. The hormone prolactin causes lactation during pregnancy and while breastfeeding.
National Cancer Institute. A breast infection or abscess. Surgery is usually also Hardcore sex video clips for bloodstained nipple discharge even if the tests show no abnormality. Common Health Topics. There are normally 15—20 milk ducts opening onto each nipple. Here are some possible causes: Some medicines, like hormones, birth control pills, antidepressants, and blood pressure medicine Herbal medicines, such as nettle, fennel, blessed thistle, anise, and fenugreek seed Street drugs, like marijuana and opiates Hormone imbalances Clothes that irritate the breasts, like scratchy shirts or bras that don't Breast are leaking not pregnant well Too frequent breast self-exams daily exams Stimulating the breasts during sex Tumors of the pituitary say: pih-too-ih-terry gland in the brain. This handout is provided to you by your family doctor and the American Academy of Family Physicians. Breast cancer. If your breasts start leaking this kind of discharge and you're not pregnant or breastfeeding, you should check in with a medical professional to see what's going on.
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This can be stimulation during sexual activity, from frequent breast self-exams, or from clothing that rubs against the nipples. Crying during pregnancy isn't just perfectly Breast are leaking not pregnant — it's also fairly common. Her symptoms went away when she was no longer near the baby. These will usually Breast are leaking not pregnant that you don't have cancer. You may have seen stories about people making their own toothpaste pregnancy tests. However, a nipple discharge in men is Car rubber restore abnormal. A discharge can come from one or more of these ducts. Possibly menstrual irregularities or no menstrual periods amenorrhea. Infections of the breast are usually one sided and may also cause breast swelling. Read this next. While breast milk is expected in pregnancy and after child birth, other secretions from the breast may also occur in women of any age. If a pituitary or brain disorder is suspected, magnetic resonance imaging MRI or computed tomography CT of the head is done. Nipple discharge in men isn't normal. Doctors first ask questions about the woman's symptoms and medical history.
Lactation is the process of producing breast milk.
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- Fluid that leaks from one or both nipples is called a nipple discharge.
- Nipple discharge affects many women who are not pregnant or breastfeeding and the presence of breast secretions do not always indicate any serious problem.
Lactation or nipple discharge is a normal part of pregnancy and the months following giving birth, but what if you experience leaky nipples or similar symptoms when you definitely aren't pregnant? Nipple discharge, also known as galactorrhea, usually occurs in women - including those who have never been pregnant - but it can affect both men and infants.
There are other forms of nipple discharge which means liquid coming out of a nipple, which can be of different colour and can be spontaneous or occur upon squeezing. Other than the lactation or discharge itself, galactorrhea can come with other symptoms, one or both breasts can be affected, and the discharge can be persistent or intermittent. Nipple discharge could be due to a variety of reasons including both medical and lifestyle factors.
Dr Choy outlines the most common reasons:. Among the most common medical causes are continuous milk production despite stopping breast feeding or excessive external stimulation to nipples. Other conditions may include a tumour on the pituitary gland or an underactive thyroid both the thyroid and pituitary gland regulate hormones which affect lactation and nipple discharge.
The pituitary gland regulates the level of prolactin in your blood stream - this is the hormone which controls milk production. Alongside this, higher than usual levels of theoestrogen in women and lower than usual testosterone levels in males can both lead to galactorrhea. Medications such as antipsychotics and antidepressants, hormone related pills, some cardiac and antiacid medications, opiates could have also been found to cause milky nipple discharge.
These are not milk colour, but usually blood stained or clear colour. So, any abnormal fluid coming out of the nipple is advised to be checked by a breast specialist. Among the most common lifestyle-related causes are nipple stimulation and the use of drugs such as marijuana and cocaine.
For a small percentage of people, the underlying cause is not identifiable. This is called idiopathic galactorrhea. Your doctor may look into your medical history to determine the root cause. Anyone who experiences galactorrhea outside lactation or any other form of nipple discharge should see their doctor.
An ultrasound scan and mammogram could help to check for other causes for nipple discharge in general. Usually a patient will be referred to a breast specialist. Preventing nipple discharge depends on the cause. Alternatively, ask your doctor for a review of medications and stop using recreational drugs. If in doubt, always speak to your GP. Take notes of the consistency, colour and prevalence of discharge to help your doctor find the cause.
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A breast or mammary duct fistula is an abnormal passage that forms between a mammary duct in the breast to the surface of the skin, usually near the areola. This can be stimulation during sexual activity, from frequent breast self-exams, or from clothing that rubs against the nipples. What they find during the history and physical examination often suggests a cause of the discharge and the tests that may need to be done see Table below. The color can give you some clues about the cause. For example, in women, fondling, suckling, irritation from clothing, or sexual arousal can stimulate a nipple discharge, as can stress.
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Reasons for lactating when not recently pregnant can range from hormone imbalances to medication side effects to other health conditions. The most common cause of breast milk production is an elevation of a hormone produced in the brain called prolactin. Elevation of prolactin can be caused by:. Regular use of certain drugs, like opiates , marijuana , and cocaine , can trigger lactation without pregnancy. They will need to consider this when diagnosing your galactorrhea.
For some people, having regular breast stimulation may trigger galactorrhea. This can be stimulation during sexual activity, from frequent breast self-exams, or from clothing that rubs against the nipples.
Mothers who are adopting babies and wish to breast-feed can prepare their breasts and increase prolactin levels with pumping. Your doctor will ask about family history and then may do a few tests to determine the cause.
The doctor will also do a physical breast exam. They may try to express some of the discharge for examination in a lab. Some things can be done on your own, like avoiding tight clothing and reducing the amount of nipple stimulation during sexual activities. Other treatments need to be supervised by your doctor, like changing medications for example, switching to a different antidepressant or taking additional medications to regulate hormones.
But he points out that it can take a few months for milk production to stop, even after discontinuing medication. Your doctor will likely do more tests. Ross says medication can be given to bring down high prolactin numbers. Many of the causes of galactorrhea, like hormonal imbalances, tumors, or other medical conditions, are beyond our control. But there are a few things you can do at home to reduce your likelihood of lactating while not pregnant, including:.
The good news is that galactorrhea typically either goes away on its own or after medical treatment for its underlying cause. But if the discharge coming from your nipples is not milky and looks clear, bloody, or yellow, this is cause for concern. These may be signs of breast cancer. You should see your doctor right away. If you're experiencing changes to your dreams since your pregnancy began, you aren't alone. Learn more about what the causes may be, what types of….
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If doctors suspect that a hormonal disorder is the cause, blood tests are done to measure the levels of prolactin and thyroid-stimulating hormone. If a pituitary or brain disorder is suspected, magnetic resonance imaging MRI or computed tomography CT of the head is done. If the discharge is not obviously bloody, it is analyzed to determine whether it contains small amounts of blood.
If blood is present, a sample of the discharge is examined under a microscope called cytology to look for cancer cells. If a lump can be felt, ultrasonography is done. Testing is similar to that for any breast lump. Cysts are drained by aspiration , and the fluid is tested. If cysts remain after aspiration or if lumps are solid, mammography is done, followed by a biopsy.
If ultrasonography and mammography do not identify a cause and the discharge occurs spontaneously and comes from one milk duct, doctors usually do a special type of mammogram called a ductogram, or galactogram. For this procedure, a contrast agent which helps make images clearer is injected into the duct, and images are taken, just as for a regular mammogram.
This test can help rule out or identify cancer. If a noncancerous tumor or disorder is causing a discharge from one breast, the duct that the discharge is coming from may be removed.
This procedure requires only a local anesthetic and does not require an overnight stay in the hospital. If the discharge comes from both breasts or from several milk ducts and is not bloody or pink, the cause is usually a noncancerous hormonal disorder.
If the discharge comes from only one breast and is bloody or pink, cancer is possible, especially in women aged 40 or older. Whether blood tests, imaging such as ultrasonography , or both is done depends on the suspected cause.
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Click here for the Professional Version. Several disorders can cause an abnormal discharge. Usually, the cause is a benign disorder of the milk ducts, such as the following:.
A benign tumor in a milk duct intraductal papilloma. Warning signs Nipple discharge is a cause for concern when it. Intraductal papilloma a benign tumor in a milk duct —the most common cause. A bloody, pink, or multicolored puslike, gray, or milky discharge from one or both breasts.
A lump, often rubbery and tender, usually developing before menopause. Pain, tenderness, redness, warmth, or a combination that begins suddenly in a breast. With an abscess, a tender lump and possibly a puslike discharge that smells foul. If the discharge does not resolve with treatment, evaluation as for intraductal papilloma.
Possibly a palpable lump, changes in the skin, or enlarged lymph nodes, most often in the armpit. Possibly menstrual irregularities or no menstrual periods amenorrhea. Blood tests to measure prolactin and thyroid-stimulating hormone levels.
If the prolactin or thyroid-stimulating level is elevated, MRI of the head. Disorders of the pituitary gland or hypothalamus part of the brain. Chronic kidney or liver disorders. If no lump can be felt and the mammogram is normal, cancer is highly unlikely. If a disorder is identified, it is treated.
Usually, the cause of nipple discharge is not cancer. Generic Name Select Brand Names prochlorperazine. Was This Page Helpful? Yes No. Overview of Female Reproductive System Cancers.
A bloody or pink discharge from one breast. Usually ultrasonography Additional tests depending on the results evaluation as for breast lumps. Mammary duct ectasia dilated milk ducts. Same as for intraductal papilloma.
Galactorrhea: lactation and nipple discharge symptoms, causes and treatment
Please note: This information was current at the time of publication. But medical information is always changing, and some information given here may be out of date. For regularly updated information on a variety of health topics, please visit familydoctor. Sometimes a woman's breasts make milk even though she is not pregnant or breastfeeding. This condition is called galactorrhea say: guh-lack-tuh-ree-ah.
The milk may come from one or both breasts. It may leak on its own or only when the breasts are touched. Men can have galactorrhea, too, but it is more common in women. Galactorrhea has many causes, although sometimes a cause cannot be found. Here are some possible causes:. Tumors of the pituitary say: pih-too-ih-terry gland in the brain. These tumors are rare. They usually are not serious.
Tests are not always needed to find out what is causing your galactorrhea. But your doctor might want to take a blood sample to find out your hormone levels and to see if you are pregnant. Your doctor also might want you to have an MRI scan of your head to see if you have a tumor.
Sometimes galactorrhea will go away by itself. If you have galactorrhea and no other problems, you may not have to be treated. If galactorrhea is a side effect of a medicine you are taking, your doctor might change medicines or give you a different dosage. Most tumors that cause galactorrhea are not cancer. They usually can be treated with medicine.
Most people do not need to have surgery for a tumor. Already a member or subscriber? Log in. This handout is provided to you by your family doctor and the American Academy of Family Physicians. This information provides a general overview and may not apply to everyone. Talk to your family doctor to find out if this information applies to you and to get more information on this subject.
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Contact afpserv aafp. Want to use this article elsewhere? Get Permissions. Read the Issue. Sign Up Now. Next: Your Insulin Therapy. Aug 1, Issue. Am Fam Physician. What is galactorrhea? What causes galactorrhea? Here are some possible causes: Some medicines, like hormones, birth control pills, antidepressants, and blood pressure medicine Herbal medicines, such as nettle, fennel, blessed thistle, anise, and fenugreek seed Street drugs, like marijuana and opiates Hormone imbalances Clothes that irritate the breasts, like scratchy shirts or bras that don't fit well Too frequent breast self-exams daily exams Stimulating the breasts during sex Tumors of the pituitary say: pih-too-ih-terry gland in the brain.
In newborn babies, hormones from the mother are passed on to the baby during birth. Thyroid disease Kidney failure. What signs should I tell my doctor about? Tell your doctor if you have any of these signs with your galactorrhea: Irregular menstrual periods Red bloody fluid leaking from your breasts Headaches Trouble sleeping Less interest in sex or trouble having sex Problems with your eyesight Increase in hair growth on your chin or chest Acne Increased thirst or urination.
Which tests might my doctor want? How is galactorrhea treated? Read the full article. Get immediate access, anytime, anywhere. Choose a single article, issue, or full-access subscription. Earn up to 6 CME credits per issue. Purchase Access: See My Options close. Best Value! To see the full article, log in or purchase access. Are you sure? Email Alerts Don't miss a single issue. Sign up for the free AFP email table of contents. Navigate this Article.