What is galactorrhea?
Galactorrhea happens when one or both breasts unexpectedly produce milk or a milk-like discharge. This nipple discharge may leak from the breast on its own or when the breast is touched. The condition occurs most often in women but can also develop in men and children.
How common is galactorrhea?
Galactorrhea is most common in women aged 20 to 35 and those who have previously given birth.
What causes galactorrhea?
Doctors do not always know what causes galactorrhea. The most common cause is a pituitary tumor, a usually benign (not cancerous) growth on the pituitary gland. Other causes include:
- Being pregnant
- Taking medications including birth control pills, blood pressure medicine, or antidepressants
- Over stimulating the breasts (through sexual activity or frequent self-exams)
- Thyroid disorders
- Chronic kidney disease
- Wearing clothing that rubs or scratches the breasts
What are the symptoms of galactorrhea?
Milky nipple discharge when a person is not breastfeeding is the main symptom of galactorrhea. Other signs of the condition may include:
- Amenorrhea (infrequent or stopped menstrual periods)
- Vaginal dryness
- Reduced sex drive
- New hair growing on the chest or chin
- Erectile dysfunction