Galactorrhea is milky nipple discharge in a person who is not lactating or breastfeeding. Galactorrhea is not a disease condition on its own, but it could be a pointing signal to an underlying condition. It can occur in both women and men but is more common in women.
It can occur at any age even in infants, those who have never been pregnant and after menopause.
Causes of Galactorrhea
The major cause of galactorrhea is an increased level of prolactin production, a hormone that stimulates milk production.
Other causes may include:
Excessive breast stimulation, which may be during sexual activity or prolonged clothing friction.
Side effects of certain medications e.g. Sedatives, Antipsychotics, and Antidepressants etc.
Pituitary gland disorders
Signs and Symptoms Associated with Galactorrhea
As earlier said, galactorrhea itself is not a disease condition, however there are some symptoms that can be associated with galactorrhea depending on the underlying cause and they include;
Amenorrhea or irregular menstrual cycle.
Decreased libido / sexual drive
Erectile dysfunction in men.
N.B: Nipple discharge experienced after excessive breast stimulation during sexual activity is not usually cause for concern. However if it becomes persistent, you can make an appointment with your healthcare provider.
Different Forms of Galactorrhea.
Galactorrhea in men: Galactorrhea is a condition that can occur to any gender. In men the major cause of galactorrhea is usually testosterone deficiency (Hypogonadism), this usually causes breast enlargement or tenderness with associated galactorrhea.
Symptoms associated with galactorrhea in men include but are not limited to erectile dysfunction and lack of sexual drive.
Galactorrhea in neonates: Galactorrhea can occur in neonates, this usually occurs because hormones from the mother can cross the placenta to the baby in the womb.
Symptoms of galactorrhea in neonates include enlarged breast tissues associated with milky nipple discharge. If these symptoms persist in your newborn please see a doctor.
Note: It is important to note that any discharge from the nipple that is not milky cannot be regarded to as galactorrhea, if you experience a bloody, yellow or clear nipple discharge, you require prompt medical attention.
Determining the underlying cause of galactorrhea can be difficult as there are a lot of possibilities; this is why you need to see a specialist.
After diagnosis, treatment is usually directed towards the underlying cause.